No civilian under trial in mily courts, AGP tells SC

ISLAMABAD (PPI): Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that no civilian was being tried in military courts at the moment.
The AGP made the claim during the hearing of the petitions filed against the trial of civilians in military courts. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Monday asked the AGP to reassure him that no such trial would occur as long as the case was being heard in the court. The AGP said that no trial of civilians was currently underway. But, the AGP’s claim was contrary to army media wing’s assertions on Monday evening.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry told a media briefing that proceedings against 102 people handed over for trial were already underway. After the May 9 violent protests by the PTI workers against the arrest of party chief in Islamabad, the government announced that those protesters who damaged government buildings and army installations would be tried in military courts.
The petitions, filed by the PTI chairman, former chief justice Jawwad S Khawaja, senior lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, and five civil society members, including Piler Executive Director Karamat Ali, have requested the apex court to declare the trial of civilians in military court unconstitutional. On Monday, ex-CJP’s lawyer Khawaja Ahmed Hussain, petitioner Aitzaz Ahsan’s counsel Latif Khosa, and civil society lawyers Faisal Siddiqui and Salman Akram Raja completed their arguments.
A six-member larger bench headed by CJP Umar Ata Bandial resumed the hearing of the case. Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Mazahir Naqvi and Justice Ayesha Malik are part of the bench.
At the outset of hearing, PTI chairman’s lawyer Uzair Bhandari said that he wanted to clarify that he would argue only against the military trial of civilians. He has nothing to do with the issue of trial of army officials. The ISPR DG said in a press conference yesterday that the trial is going on. His statement contradicts the AGP’s claim, Advocate Bhandari submitted.
The AGP responded that he stood by his statement that the trial of any civilian has not yet started in the military courts. He said that the representatives of the Ministry of Defence were present in the court and verify his assertion. The CJP intervened and said the court believed what you said.
Advocate Bhandari argued that that whether a crime come under the Army Act or not is a different question. It must be determined whether there can be a trial [of a civilian] in military courts for crimes related to the forces, he added. Justice Ahsan remarked that Article 175(3) of the appointment of judges came in 1986.
“In comparison to the judicial precedents you are talking about, the circumstances and events are completely different now,” he observed. Justice Munib then asked the lawyer what protection the Constitution gave civilians that military officers did not have. Advocate Bhandari submitted that the fundamental rights mentioned in the Constitution do not apply to military personnel and officers.
He also submitted that parliament could not allow civilian trials in military courts without a constitutional amendment, adding that in the 21st constitutional amendment, the principle was established that a constitutional amendment is required for trying civilians [under the Army Act].