A 7-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan head by CJP Umar Ata Banidal has started hearing the petitions filed against civilian trail in military courts today.
Petitioner Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Sardar Latif Khosa and civil society lawyer Faisal Siddiqui reached the Supreme Court.
Faisal Siddique has started presenting arguments.
The cause list of other benches of the Supreme Court is cancelled due to the hearing of the larger bench as three regular benches were scheduled to to hear cases.
-All accused must be treated equally-
Faisal Siddiqui said his application was different from other applications and he would not argue that a civilian cannot be tried in military courts under the Official Secrets Act.
He said, “A few of the defendants were treated differently. There are 60 accused in an FIR, then 15 are given to military courts.”
Faisal said there may have been three types of trails according to the allegations in the FIRs.
“My second point is about fair trial,” Faisal Siddiqui, adding that, after a trial on a charge some will have the right to appeal and some will not.
He gave reference of the cases of Liaqat Hussain, Saeed Zaman and District Bar Association.
Faisal Siddiqui replied, “Court decisions say that there should be a clear distinction.”
“We do not say that people should not have a tough trial. What tougher trial can be than the Anti-Terrorism Court,” he argued.
Justice Ayesha Malik questioned, “What are the specific circumstances in which a trial in military courts can take place.”
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said due to national security, it was said that this trial took place in military courts.
Justice Mansoor added, “If they go within the limits of state security, then the trial is mentioned to be in military courts.”
Justice Mazahir Akbar Naqvi questioned when was the Official Secrets Act incorporated.
Justice Yahya Afridi remarked to Faisal Siddique, “You don’t understand that the Attorney General should be asked first about formation.”
Chief Justice of Pakistan Bandial asked lawyer FAisal Siddique to continue his arguments and remarked that court would hear the Attorney General after the lawyers agreements.
“The Attorney General may submit the details which were sought,” the CJP remarked.
Justice Ayesha Malik said, “Maybe the nature of charges against those who were handed over to military courts may be different,” adding that, “You are only saying on assumption that there is no evidence against these people.”
“You are going to a general discussion, it is not even known under which clause these people were sent to military courts,” Justice Yahya Afridi added.
He also asked the lawyer to keep his arguments to the relevant points.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that the law does not say that the official Secrets Act will apply only if there is a person working in the army.
“The Act also applies to the offense of being within military premises,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said.
Punjab govt submits data details in SC
The case hearing adjourned for 15 minutes and later it resumed.
Notices to PM, all parties
The Supreme Court had issued a notice to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in this case as a written order was released.
The SC also served notices to the federation, the four provinces, the Attorney General, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan.
The apex court also sought details of all people arrested after May 9 arson attacks on state institutions.