Military courts without constitutional amendments to backfire, moot told

Karachi: Ex Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice (retried) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui has said that if military court were established without proper constitutional amendments, their fate would not be different from the military courts as announced in the era of Mian Nawaz Sharif in 1998.

Speaking at a seminar, organized by Pasban, at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Monday, he reminded at that time those military courts were challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and in the case of Muhram Ali, the Supreme Court gave the ruling that the military courts were against the prevailing judicial system and the constitution of Pakistan. These courts even if established would not prove beneficial. If the government wants to set up the military courts again it should have to amend the constitution and make these courts subordinate to the high courts. Otherwise, the establishment of the military courts would mean that there is lack of confidence in the prevailing court system in Pakistan.

Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui said that the military courts are against the article 175 of the constitution of Pakistan. Under the article 245 the government can seek assistance from the armed forces when needed and even call them for a limited period and in this regard also make laws; however, it cannot set up the military courts as a permanent legal system. (

Ex-president of Supreme Court Bar Association Hamid Ali Khan addressing the seminar on telephone said that establishing of military courts is against the law and constitution and an extra-constitutional step. He said the experiment of military courts in past is before us, which were termed null and void by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1998. He said the record and decisions of the previous military courts in martial law regimes are there to show that these courts are no solution to the issues facing nation and country. These decisions in past have remained disputed. He said instead of insisting on military courts we should remove the shortcomings of our present judicial system and increase access of people to swift and cost-effective justice system.

Pasban e Pakistan President Altaf Shakoor said that Pasban has not invited any political parties to this seminar because all political parties are supporting the unconstitutional military courts. He said the assistance of the armed forces and agencies in judicial investigation is welcome, but the right to give verdicts should remain vested with the judges. He said the corrupt police deliberately makes cases weak and the judges cannot go to field for investigation. He asked if the army officers are replaced with judges, would the judges be sent to battlefield. He said that Pasban would foil the conspiracy to create differences between the Pakistani masses and their army. He said Pakistan army is our own army and it is not proper for patriotic Pakistanis to utter improper language against it due to the mistakes of a few officers.

He said that our nuclear assets are the first target of the enemy who wants to flare internal conflicts to assure its reach to these precious assets. He said that our army and agencies are for the protection of our people. He said that the consequences of PPO have been seen by all. He said the police have already become an unbridled horse, and establishment of military courts would further deteriorate the situation and may harm the honor and credibility of the forces.

Columnist Tahir Najmi said the whole nation is mourning the Peshawar tragedy, and every Pakistani wants that the culprits are duly punished. He said; however, we should show sanity and give focus to improve our system to ensure such tragedies are not repeated in future. He said there should be a justice system that ensures due punishment to the criminals but does not harm any innocent person.

Religious scholar and administrator of Jamia Binoria Mufti Naeem said the common man is not getting justice either from the ordinary courts or special courts. He said the statement of Asif Ali Zardari is worth noting that the politicians would not be brought to the military courts. He said therefore, it seems that only bearded and religious men would be tried in these courts to please the Western powers. He said that when no action is taken against those who are grabbing lands, parks and playgrounds, and there is talk to raze mosques, it is a sheer injustice.

Vice president of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Asad Iqbal Advocate said sadly the political parties in the all parties’ conference supported the military courts, and now these parties are making lame excuses. He said the verdicts of the military courts of past martial laws are questionable and now it is feared that the proposed military courts would be used against the political workers of Balochistan and Sindh. He said it is injustice that if some workers protest for their rights, police is allowed to baton charge them, but when a worker pelts police with stones, he is declared terrorists and tried in a military court. He said a proper definition of ‘terrorist’ should be devised. He said it needs to reform the judicial system, modernize police on scientific lines, and give protection to judges, lawyers and witnesses, as these steps would result in end to terrorism.

Lawyer leader Barrister Salahuddin said there are reservations on the matter of military courts. He asked who would decide that which case would go to the present courts and which to the military courts. He said that a hasty decision for establishment of military courts without consultations with the Supreme Court of Pakistan, bar associations and lawyers would be contrary to the present judiciary. He said the experiment of anti-terrorist courts has already failed. He said instead of going for the military courts, the lacunas in the present courts and institutions should be removed.

Journalist Syed Arif Mustafa said to fight terrorism it is necessary to redress the root causes of terrorism. He said all types and forms of terrorism should be eliminated. He said the killings of people in the infighting of political groups should be termed terrorism. To threaten media to get the desired coverage should also be included in the definition of terrorism. He regretted that the present judiciary system is being bypassed in the garb of military courts. He, however, advised that there is no harm in getting assistance from the army in investigation and taking the culprits to the task.

However, ex-president of Karachi Press Club (KPC) Imtiaz Faran said that any step of the government without the democratic process of legislation would remain questionable. He said with the name of military courts one thinks about extra-judicial punishments and in case of any excesses a good step could be changed in a conflict. He said more timeframe given to reach to a decision. He said the government should ensure that no excesses would be committed at any cost. He said if the judicial system was bypassed it would deal an irreparable blow. He said if the step that the present government is committed to take, did not give the desired results it would only spread hopelessness amongst the masses.

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