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Sunday, March 03, 2024  
21 Shaban 1445  

Punjab challenges SC decision against military trial of civilians

Urges court to set aside verdict by five-member bench and ‘dismiss the petitions with costs’

The caretaker Punjab government has challenged the Supreme Court’s decision against the military trial of civilians, requesting the SC to set aside the verdict by five-member bench and “dismiss the petitions with costs”.

In its application, the government said that the petitions against the military trials of civilians were not maintainable before the SC in its original jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. It said the challenges raised in the original petitions could have been adjudicated by the high courts in their original constitutional jurisdiction under Article 199.

The development comes three days after the interior ministry challenged the Supreme Court verdict.

On October 23, a five-member SC bench declared Section 2(1)(d) of the Army Act, which elaborates on persons subject to the Act, to be in violation of the Constitution and “of no legal effect”. The court also declared Section 59(4) (civil offences) of the Act to be unconstitutional. Justice Afridi disagreed with striking down the sections.

The order said the trials of 102 civilians and accused persons, identified by the government in a list provided to the SC, and all other persons who may be placed under trial in connection with the events of May 9 should be held in criminal courts.

“It is further declared that any action or proceedings under the Army Act in respect of the aforesaid persons or any other persons so similarly placed (including but not limited to trial by court martial) are and would be of no legal effect,” the court had added.

The Punjab government’s petition said: “The impugned order is not sustainable as it failed to set aside or decide the fate of the orders by ATC under Section 549 of the CrPC.”

It added that Sections 2(1)(d) and 59(4) of the Army Act were “constitutionally insulated from a challenge on the touchstone of fundamental rights and the impugned order, to the extent that it has failed to appreciate this, has erred in law”. The SC verdict was liable to be set aside, the petition said.

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