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Objection raised on SC bench hearing appeals against its verdict in military trials of civilians

Apex court also declines to accept KP govt’s request to withdraw its intra-court appeal

By News Desk

March 25, 2024 01:13 PM


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An objection was raised on the six-judge larger bench of the Supreme Court hearing a string of intra-court appeals (ICAs) against the apex court's decision nullifying the trials of civilians in military courts, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The larger bench took up the ICAs on Monday, and without wasting any time former chief justice Jawad S Khawaja's counsel Khawaja Ahmed Hussain raised the objection on the bench.

A six-member larger bench headed by Justice Aminuddin Khan conducted the hearing. Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shahid Waheed, Justice Musrat Hilali, and Justice Irfan Saadat Khan are other members of the bench.

The Supreme Court on October 23 last year had unanimously nullified the military trials of civilians allegedly involved in May 9 vandalism. The case relates to trials of 103 civilians for their alleged roles in attacks on military installations during violence after PTI founder Imran Khan’s arrest.

The apex court had declared that the accused would not be tried in military courts but in criminal courts of competent jurisdiction established under the ordinary or special law of the land. On December 13, in a 5-1 majority verdict, the Supreme Court had conditionally suspended its earlier ruling.

During the prcoceedings on Monday, Khawaja Ahmad Hussain said he had an objection on the six-member larger bench. He said it would be appropriate to refer the matter to the Judges Committee again for the formation of the bench. He said he had made a request earlier to form a 9-member larger bench.

He said the five-member bench of the Supreme Court had earlier declared the trial null and void by giving a unanimous decision and now if the six-member bench gives its decision by four to two, then the verdict will become controversial.

He said it is important for public confidence in the judiciary that the decision should not be controversial.

On this, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar said if a 9-member bench was formed earlier, it would not have been possible to hear the appeals today.

Khawaja Ahmad Hussain said family members of 103 people who are being tried in the military courts were not allowed to enter the Supreme Court. He requested the court that the family members of the accused be allowed to come to the courtroom.

On this, Justice Aminuddin Khan asked how so many people would be seated in the courtroom and the family members of the accused are even not party to this case. “We do not mind anyone coming but will call them in on another day according to the space,” Justice Khan said.

Petitioner Aitzaz Ahsan also stood up, saying one person from each family should be allowed to enter. Replying to him, Justice Aminuddin Khan said that it is not possible to call all the people to the courtroom today but they would be called on another day.

During the hearing, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Advocate General Shah Faisal Uthmankhel said he wanted to withdraw his government's appeal in the trials by military courts case as the KP Cabinet had passed a resolution in this regard.

“We want to withdraw the intra-court appeals,” the KP AG said, at which the court noted that the ICAs could not be withdrawn based on a cabinet resolution and told the lawyer to file an official application for withdrawal.

The Supreme Court also sought a summary of acquittals and lesser sentences awarded to 103 detainees. The court ordered the Attorney General to give a summary of how many people are acquitted and which people have lesser sentences.

It also sought information on the suspects who were to be sentenced for shorter periods. “The stay order on the military courts’ case will be amended according to the summary,” it noted.

Later, the apex court adjourned the hearing till March 28.

 

Reporter: Amanat Gishkori


News Desk


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