Petition moved in Supreme Court against military laws

ISLAMABAD: A constitutional petition was moved in the apex court against certain provisions of the military laws on Monday. The petitioners submitted that certain provisions of the military laws were in violation of Article 8 of the constitution and also denied fundamental rights of fair trial and due process through independent and impartial tribunals. The petition has been filed by four civilian convicts – Ghulam Sarwar Bhatti, Zubair Ahmed, Mushtaq Ahmad and Ikhlas Ahmed – who have been imprisoned in the central jails of Faisalabad and Rawalpindi for their alleged attempt on the life of General (r) Pervez Musharraf.

The petition was filed through advocate Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry making the federation through the law and justice secretary and the Ministry of Defence secretary as respondents. Challenging the vires of different provisions of law in the Pakistan Army Act 1952, Pakistan Air Force Act 1953 and Pakistan Navy Ordinance 1961, the petitioners said that recommendations be made for amendments in the said laws and they (petitioners) be given at least one chance to file an appeal against the army tribunals’ decision in the Supreme Court.

The petitioners have prayed for recommendations to the federal government to legislate for independent military tribunals and finally to re-examine all the lawsuits starting from the FB Ali case, through a larger bench of the apex court. The have also requested to reexamine constitutionally the sentence awarded to them. Former president Musharraf had been attacked on December 14, 2003, and then on December 25, 2003, near Jhanda Chichi Bridge in Chaklala.

Afterwards, the petitioners had been tried by a military court and awarded sentences. The petitioners’ counsel contends that the military tribunals had, while denying relief to the petitioners under the law and constitution, exercised the jurisdiction erroneously. He says that the cases may be re-examined on the basis of constitutional rights available to the public and the question of law raised in the constitutional petition relating to the armed forces. “The Section 133 of the Army Act 1952 along with other provisions mentioned in the petition be declared ultra-vires for being in negation of Articles 2A, 4, 5, 9, 10, 10A and 25 of the constitution. These provisions also deny rights under Articles 175 and 203 of the constitution negating role of an independent judiciary to every citizen.”

The counsel also argues that the Section 2(1)(d) introduced through amendment in 1967 by amending Ordinance III of 1967 (Defence Services Law Amendment Ordinance 1967) in the Pakistan Army Act 1952, Air Force Act 2(1)(dd), and Naval Ordinance 2(3) to bring civilians within the jurisdiction of military tribunals was ultra-vires of the constitution. – Dailytimes