Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that civilians could be tried in special courts in cases of ‘mutiny’ as the SC took up petitions against civilians being tried in military courts for the second straight day on Friday.
“It is not correct to say that civilians can never be tried in military courts,” he said.
However, the CJP questioned how military courts had been constituted and how the ATC had transferred cases to the military court.
The chief justice also remarked that if a civilian worked with an army official to act against the state, no distinction could be made between the two.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan questioned its power over the Army Act during the proceeding. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah made the key observation as former Chief Justice Jawad S. Khawaja’s lawyer presented his arguments.
“What gives Supreme Court the right to look into the Army Act?” Justice Mansoor said.
All other cases have been de-listed from hearing on Friday and only the military courts’ case will be heard.
“No woman, journalist or lawyer in military custody”
Attorney General Mansoor Awan came to the dais and said he wanted to answer the questions that the court had asked him in the previous hearing.
He said that a total of 102 people were in military custody across the country.
He also added that no woman, journalist, or lawyer was in the military’s custody.
The AG also said that civilian authorities only had four people in custody in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and not a single person in Islamabad was being held by authorities. He added that in Punjab 21 people had been arrested under MPO, while 141 were taken into custody under anti-terrorism laws.
Punjab government submits details
The Punjab government submitted details of all people taken into custody since the May 9 protests in the court on Friday.
According to the details submitted 1,888 people were arrested in 51 cases under the anti-terrorism act. Of these, 108 are under physical remand while 1,247 are under judicial remand. There are another 33 people pending the identification parade. Meanwhile, 500 people have been discharged and 232 are on bail.
The Punjab government also said that 4,119 people had been arrested in 247 other cases relating to the incident. Out of these 3,012 people have been released on bail and 1,201 have been discharged.
The provincial government also said that a total of 81 women had been arrested across the province of whom 42 were on bail and 39 were judicial.
Thursday’s tumultuous hearing had begun with Senior Puisne Judge Qazi Faez Isa distancing himself from the bench over the matter of the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Bill still pending in the court.
“I do not accept today’s court,” he had remarked before leaving the bench. Justice Tariq Masood had voiced his agreement.
Following the break-up of the bench, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial reconstituted a seven-member bench and continued proceedings.
The discussion had turned to whether the trial of civilians in military courts had begun. Lawyer Latif Khosa had told the court that requests had been made to anti-terrorism courts to hand over the accused to military courts.
The court had summoned records of military courts but refrained to issue a stay order.