Monday, January 26, 2015

Two-member bench of Pakistan Supreme Court revives long-pending attack on court-martial system

Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja
A two-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan has revived a case that had been in abeyance, apparently for lack of prosecution, challenging aspects of the court-martial system. PT has the story here:
The Supreme Court (SC) has restored the petitions for hearings, which were filed against court martial procedures and rejected by the apex court in January 2013.
The court has ordered that the petition for these hearings be fixed within two weeks despite government’s opposition.
A two-member bench of the SC, presided over by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, took up the petition filed by Col (r) Akram for hearing on Monday. Akram had filed this petition in 2010, however it was dismissed after it was not contested in January 2013. The court has restored this petition for hearing.
Akram had argued that the charge-sheet carrying the allegations is not served to the accused during a court martial and he even does not know what he is being convicted for and what he is being punished for. The accused is not even provided access to the record, while the facility provided to the accused for filing an appeal against the conviction is equal to nil.
The Deputy Attorney General (DAG) opposed the petitions on behalf of the federal government saying that the court has already rejected these applications because it had not been persuaded by them earlier. The law does not allow for restoration of these petitions after one year.
The court remarked that the matter is crucial, therefore it would hear it.
This action suggests that the Court will also be attentive to the recent flurry of petitions attacking the expansion of military court jurisdiction under the 21st Amendment and related changes to the Army Act.

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