Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Another bar association files constitutional petition against Pakistan's military courts

The Peshawar High Court Bar Association (PHCBA) has joined other national and provincial bar organizations in challenging the constitutionality of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan. The News International reports:
It took the plea that the 21st Amendment abrogated and took away the fundamental rights of the people guaranteed by the Constitution. The PHCBA filed the petition through its president Muhammad Essa Khan.

The petitioner had made the federation through secretary Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the four provinces through their secretary law as respondents in the petition.

The petition noted that establishment of military courts on January 6, 2015 for determination of offenses against the civilians accused of terrorist acts disturbed the legal fraternity across the country.

The PHCBA claimed that formation of military courts compromised the independence and separation of the judiciary from executive.It argued that the 21st Amendment Bill was rushed through both houses of the Parliament without meaningful debate and resultantly a constitutional amendment destructive of the basic structure and salient features of the 1973 constitution was promulgated.

It said the PHCBA cannot ignore the infringement of the rights of the citizens and independence of the judiciary.The petition felt the constitutional amendment that destroyed the basic structure of the Constitution was beyond the powers of the Parliament and, therefore, the 21st Amendment was liable to be struck down by the apex court.

It prayed that the petition may be accepted and the 21st Amendment declared as violation of the Constitution.The Pakistan Bar Council and Supreme Court Bar Association have also challenged the formation of military courts in the apex court.
According to the Supreme Court's website, the challenges to the 21st Amendment await a ruling by the Chief Justice of Pakistan on whether to convene an expanded bench.

The Islamabad High Court Bar Association's president has announced plans to file its own constitutional petition challenging the 21st Amendment.

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