Wednesday February 28, 2024

Special speedy trial courts to replace military courts

December 30, 2016

Govt to introduce new law after constitutional amendment expires on January 6

ISLAMABAD: After military courts stop working, special speedy trial courts will be established to hear terrorism cases for which the government will introduce a new law. Consultations are under way in this context.

Highly-placed sources in Islamabad say the military courts had been set up for two years under the 21st Amendment. These courts’ term will end on January 7. The government has taken a principled decision that it will not bring a new constitutional amendment for the continuation of military courts.

This gap will be bridged lawfully and the government will enforce the Anti-Terrorism Act drafted by the Interior Ministry that will include the top clauses of the Protection of Pakistan Act (POPA).

The Rangers and other law-enforcement agencies will continue to enjoy police powers to maintain peace and thwart terrorist activities.  Under the new law, the special speedy trial courts will replace the military courts to hear the terrorism cases. Steps will also be taken to lawfully protect witnesses in these cases. The sources say the government has the power to promulgate an ordinance in the absence of the National Assembly session.

The Senate will meet on January 9 and the National Assembly on January 26. So there will be no constitutional gap after the abolishment of the military courts on January 7.  The sources say that to bridge the gap to be caused by the expiry of the military courts, the Senate passed two substitute laws which are tagged as private members bills.

The government did not own these bills. So they were not put on the agenda of the National Assembly. In this regard, the government is busy making new laws and bringing additions to the Anti-Terrorism Act brought forward by the Interior Ministry. It is expected that a presidential ordinance will be issued in the early days of the new year.