Tuesday September 26, 2023

Rioters’ trial in military courts unlawful: SCBA

May 19, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Thursday opposed the trial of people allegedly involved in May 9 incidents in military courts, saying that the trial will be unconstitutional.

SCBA President Abid S Zubairi, along with other officer-bearers, in a statement, said that at this juncture, it was important to address security concerns and maintain law and order. It is equally vital to uphold principles of justice and fairness.

“As such, trials to be conducted under military courts may raise questions about transparency, impartiality and protection of civil liberties”, the SCBA president said, adding that it was crucial to ensure that all individuals accused of crimes were granted their fundamental rights (as enshrined in Articles 4,8,9,10,10-A and 14 of the Constitution). He said such courts might also lack civilian oversight and accountability as they were composed of military officers, and their procedures and standards of evidence might differ from those of civilian courts.

“The trial by military courts shall be unconstitutional,” Zubairi said, adding that it was equally important to strike a balance between security imperatives and protection of civil liberties, including the right to fair trial.

To address these concerns, the SCBA president said efforts should be made to strengthen the civilian judiciary, enhance its capacity to handle terrorism-related cases and ensure that all individuals, regardless of their alleged crimes, were given protection of their fundamental rights and tried in accordance with the law.

He asked law-enforcement agencies to thoroughly, impartially and independently investigate the criminal events of May 9, hold those responsible accountable and ensure that justice was served. “It is essential to promote a peaceful and inclusive society where the rule of law prevails and differences can be addressed through dialogue and democratic processes,” he said and called upon political parties to resolve their differences for the sake of national integrity and rule of law.

Meanwhile, the SCBA condemned the May 9 incidents wherein a violent mob attacked the Jinnah House (Lahore) and military installations across the country.

“Such acts of violence and destruction not only undermine the rule of law but also threatened the stability and security of the country,” he said, adding that the SCBA conveyed its unwavering support to the armed forces of Pakistan. He said attacking historical and cultural landmarks like the Jinnah House was an assault on the shared heritage and identity of the people of Pakistan. Similarly, targeting military offices/installations posed a threat to national security.

“It is essential to protect landmarks as they serve as reminders of our nation’s history and the principles upon which it was built.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Thursday announced a nationwide strike on May 22 in connection with a meeting of G-20 countries on May 22-24 in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. In a statement issued here, Haroonur Rashid, vice chairman, and Hassan Raza Pasha, chairman Executive Committee, condemned the Indian decision to hold G-20 countries in IIOJ&K.