Saturday, September 27, 2014

How to discourage litigation

Lahore High Court
From Pakistan comes word of this shocking case in which an Air Force officer was punished for having gone to the civilian High Court in Lahore (LHC) to complain about the service's selective refusal to permit him to retire early. Now he is seeking to have those responsible held in contempt of court.
According to the charge-sheet attached with the fresh petition, [Squadron Leader Akhtar] Abbas was being tried by a Field General Court Martial for various charges, including a charge under Section 65 of the PAF Act, entitled ‘An Act Prejudical To Good Order And Air Force Discipline’.
His crime is that he “while being in the service of PAF, filed a writ petition against the federation of Pakistan and chief of air staff in the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench”.
The charge-sheet also alleges that while in custody, on May 7, Mr Abbas advised another PAF officer, Squadron Leader Zubair Ahmed, to apply for early retirement.
For the charge of referring the avionics engineer from Kamra to a lawyer, Mr Abbas was charged under Section 37(e) of the PAF act, entitled ‘Endeavoring To Seduce A Person In The PAF From His Allegiance To The Government’.
After PAF authorities charged Mr Abbas for moving the court, his counsel, retired Brigadier Wasaf Khan Niazi – who is a former judge advocate general officer - filed the contempt petition, maintaining that the charge for filing a petition in the court was “not only illegal under Article 4 of the Constitution but also amounted to contempt of court within the meaning of Article 204 read with the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2004”.
The petition stated that Mr Abbas raised the objection both orally and in writing before the FGCM, but the court overruled the objection and proceeded to try the defendant.
The petition insists that, “it was for the high court alone to have decided whether the petition was maintainable or otherwise”.
The petition maintains that by charging an officer for filing a petition, “a message is being sent to the PAF … and the armed forces … that they have no fundamental rights/guarantees available to them under the Constitution”.

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