Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pakistan: the commentary begins in earnest

Now that the dust has settled on The Military Courts Case, serious commentary has begun to appear in the Pakistani media. Here are two recent contributions, each of which is well worth the time to study:

Sarmad Ali, The Basic Structure Debate:
. . . [I]n my humble opinion, the “salient feature” wording used by the learned judges in the most recent judgement on the 18th and 21st amendments seems to be much closer to the basic structure theory. However, the apex court judges in the coming years should try to adopt a more open, structured approach and explain in more detail the basic structure of the Constitution. It seems like the judges of the apex courts are in favour of developing the basic structure of the Constitution so as to avoid dire legal amendments. They want to maintain the clear role of the judiciary to strike down undemocratic amendments that violate the structure of the Constitution. It is good that the judges opined that the 18th and 21st Amendments were not in violation of the Constitution and that, therefore, military courts may function in Pakistan in order to curb terrorism and conduct trials of heinous offenders for a certain period of time. The judgment is plausible and welcoming as it endorses the will of the legislature. If the court had not given such a judgement there would have been political chaos.
Aitzaz A. Chaudhary, Judicial Proxy?:
Eleven out of seventeen members of the bench came to the conclusion that references to the military courts by the federal government and verdicts of the same are subject to review by the judiciary, and that the dictates of due process are applicable on the military courts, and that they are ‘bound’ to provide the accused (terrorists?), with a fair trial ensuring reasonable procedural safeguards (Sigh. And pigs will fly!).

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