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Military courts case: SC accepts pleas seeking formation of larger bench

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Raja Mohsin Ijaz
Raja Mohsin Ijaz
Raja Mohsin Ijaz is ARY News' Special Correspondent covering Foreign & Diplomatic Affairs from Islamabad

The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday accepted pleas seeking the formation of a larger bench to hear appeals against the annulment of trials of civilians in military courts.

A six-member bench headed by Justice Aminuddin heard the appeals against the annulment of trials of civilians in military courts. Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shahid Waheed, Justice Musrrat Hilali and Justice Irfan Saadat Khan are also part of the bench.

Lawyer of former CJP Jawad S. Khawaja, one of the applicants, in his arguments before the court said two judges of the SC including Justice Afridi and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah penned a note for the formation of a larger bench to hear the appeals.

Justice Aminuddin asked how the notes of judges can influence the bench hearing the case. Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar remarked observation of Justice Afridi was limited to the final verdict.

After being asked by Justice Musarrat Hilali, the lawyer responded the pleas would stand rejected if the current six-member bench gave a split verdict of 3-3.

At this juncture, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar remarked, then a larger bench demand can come forward to the matter.

The Supreme Court after accepting the pleas for a 9-member or larger bench of the SC, forwarded the matter of military courts to the judges committee.

Read more: Military courts granted conditional authority to announce reserved verdicts

In the previous hearing, the Supreme Court had asked the attorney-general for the details of the accused sentenced to three years in jail by military courts.

The court ordered the release of 20 accused who were sentenced to one year jail before Eid. The details of the accused released on Eid were submitted to the Supreme Court.

Military trials

In the month of May, the government decided to try the suspects accused of attacking military installations on May 9 under army laws.

Violent clashes broke out across Pakistan after the former prime minister was arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on May 9.

Army installations, the Corps Commander’s house in Lahore and General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi came under attack during a protest by PTI workers.

Pleas

Following the arrests made in connection with the violent riots that erupted across the country on May 9, the government announced its decision to hold military court trials of those found guilty of damaging and attacking military instalments — a move both the government and the army considered a low blow.

In light of this decision, PTI founder Imran Khan, former chief justice Jawwad S Khawaja, legal expert Aitzaz Ahsan, and five civil society members, including Piler Executive Director Karamat Ali, requested the apex court to declare the military trials “unconstitutional”.

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