The government will file an appeal against the Supreme Court’s decision to declare civilians trial in military courts as unconstitutional, it has been learnt. 

Two cabinet ministers, on condition of not being named, when contacted on Tuesday, told The News that an appeal will be filed in the apex court against its verdict announced on Monday.

Information Minister Murtaza Solangi, however, when contacted, said that the government will wait for the detailed judgment. He said the judgment will be reviewed by the law ministry in consultation with others. The cabinet will finally decide about the appeal on the basis of law ministry’s input on the subject.

In its verdict handed down on Monday, the Supreme Court declared the trial of civilians in the military courts as unconstitutional and held that 103 persons and others, who may be related to the events of May 9 and 10, could be tried by criminal courts established under the ordinary or special law of the land.

It is not clear whether the custody of 103 civilians whose trial by the military courts has been declared unconstitutional will be handed over to civilian authorities now or the issue will be deferred till the final decision of appeal to be filed in future.

A ministerial source said that in his view, the custody of these civilians will remain with the military authorities. The source said that while filing the appeal, the government would also seek a stay order against the SC order announced on Monday.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Ayesha A Malik, announced the decisions on petitions challenging the trial of civilians in military courts.

After the May 9 attack, Army Chief General Asim Munir had said, “Legal process of trial against planners, instigators, abettors and perpetrators involved in May 9 tragedy has commenced under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act as per existing and established legal procedures derived from the Constitution of Pakistan.”

A Special Corps Commanders Conference, held in the second week of May, had also said, “Based on the irrefutable evidence collected so far, the Armed Forces are well aware of the planners, instigators, abettors and perpetrators of these attacks and attempts to create distortions in this regard are absolutely futile.”

“The forum expressed the firm resolve that those involved in these heinous crimes against the military installations and personnel/ equipment will be brought to justice through trials under relevant laws of Pakistan including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act. It resolved that restraint will no longer be exercised against perpetrators, spoilers and violators who attack military installations and setups under any circumstances.”


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2023-10-25

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