Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said on Thursday the army did the right thing by not opening fire at civilians on May 9 as a six-judge bench indefinitely adjourned the hearing of a set of petitions challenging the trials of civilians in military courts.
“When Aitzaz Ahsan said why the protesters were not shot, I felt very sad. Pakistan Army is for the defence of the people and the country,” the CJP said. “The army did the right thing by not opening fire on May 9.”
The bench, headed by the top judge, comprised Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Ayesha A Malik.
The chief justice remarked that the apex court would defend the Constitution and the people and prevent any unconstitutional step.
Official Secret Act: ‘CJP alone cannot take suo motu notice’
The chief justice of Pakistan cannot take suo motu notice alone as it was a decision of the larger bench, CJP Umar Ata Bandial said while replying to lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan’s demand for one. The lawyer expressed concerns over the Official Secret Act.
This came during the hearing of petitions against civilians’ trial in the military courts.
“One forum has passed it now, let’s see what the other forum decides. This bill is still under discussion in Parliament. We don’t know much about this bill,” said the CJP.
Ahsan informed the court that it was a “bill” which was passed by the National Assembly when asked by the chief judge whether it was a bill or law.
The lawyer urged the court to take suo motu over the Official Secret Act, saying that six judges were sitting to hear the case.
Ahsan was of the view that unlimited powers were given to the institution with amendments to the Act. Intelligence agencies were empowered by legislation to conduct searches without warrants, he added.
The bill was hurried through the National Assembly on Tuesday. But the bill did not have smooth sailing in the Senate, whose members have recently complained of the upper house being turned into a “rubber stamp” body.