Ex-CJP petitions SC to stop civilians from being tried in military courts

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Former Pakistani chief justice Jawwad S. Khawaja on Tuesday petitioned the Supreme Court to stop civilians from being tried in military courts, according to local media reports.

The Federation of Pakistan was named a respondent in the case under Article 184(3) of the Constitution by the petitioner, who also named the law, defense, and provincial chief secretaries as respondents.

The petition, according to the former chief justice, does not aim to support or criticize any political party or organization. Instead, it presents an important constitutional issue affecting fundamental rights that has to be decided in light of the current situation.

Justice Khwaja stated in the petition, which was presented through his attorney Khawaja Ahmad Hosain, “The petitioner has no personal interest in this case and the relief sought is for the benefit of all citizens regardless of political affiliation.”

The former CJP requested that the Supreme Court rule that military tribunals’ use of court martial to try civilians is illegal when regular courts are in operation.

In a similar vein, he requested that the court declare Sections 2(1)(d)(i) and (ii) of the Pakistan Army Act 1952 invalid and unconstitutional since they are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The former chief justice also asked the Supreme Court to order the respondents to keep and provide a list of all civilians under military custody, together with information on where they are being held.

Moreover, to declare that any actions taken against civilians are unlawful and to order their handover to the relevant civilian authorities for appropriate legal action before regular criminal courts.

The petitioner argued that the Pakistan Army Act of 1952 cannot apply to civilians when regular courts are operating since it was created to uphold the internal discipline of the armed forces.

He further argued that Article 245 of the Constitution is violated when civilian power is supported by the armed forces by summoning them, as doing so displaces civic power and does not ‘assist’ it.