SC rejects plea against setting up military courts
Seeks reply from central and all provincial governments on 21st Amendment within two weeks; LHCBA lawyer dubs amendment ‘suicide attack’ on constitutional courts
By our correspondents
January 29, 2015
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday threw out a verbal plea to stop setting up and working of military courts, directing the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) and advocates general of Islamabad, Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to submit replies on the 21st Constitutional Amendment case within two weeks.A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk and comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, heard the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) petition challenging the 21st Constitutional Amendment and establishment of military courts in the country. The court also rejected the verbal plea to stop setting up and working of military courts.During the proceedings, Hamid Khan, the counsel for LHCBA, argued that satisfactory debate on the 21st Constitutional Amendment and The Army Act Amendment bills was not held in parliament and termed the amendment contrary to the fundamental human rights. The amendment has affected articles 2 (a) and 8 of basic rights, he said adding that parliament has no right to amend the basic structure of the Constitution.Khan further argued that trial of civilians in military courts is an attack on the judiciary’s authority. The move has imposed prohibition on the concept of free judiciary while Article 175/3, which separates thejudiciary from legislature, has also been affected. He prayed to the court to declare the 21st Amendment null and void as it contradicts the basic constitutional structure.Justice Mushir Alam asked about the Article 239, which states that no amendment of the Constitution shall be called into question in any court on any ground whatsoever. Khan replied that he would argue in the next hearing that the structure of the Constitution could not be changed by any amendment. He argued that the amendment was the first of its kind made after 39 years. He contended that trial of civilians in military courts was a “suicide attack” on
constitutional courts. The apex court issued notices and sought replies from the AGP and all the five advocates general and adjourned the hearing till February 12.