Wednesday, February 10, 2016

More specifics on the latest Pakistani military court litigation

The Express Tribune has more details about yesterday's activity in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in cases arising from the military courts authorized by the 21st Amendment to the country's Constitution. Excerpt:
The bench asked the AGP to submit a report on the status of the convicts’ appeals and supply the unsigned copy of the military court judgments, while not disclosing names and designations of the officials who handed down the sentence. 
Justice [Qazi Faez] Isa observed the judgment on the 21st constitutional amendment had left a narrow window open to allow examination of a military court verdict by the superior courts, if the convict suffered from issues like qorum non judice, fair trial and mala fide
He asked the counsels whether they filed the appeals against their conviction before the competent forum, which is the appellate court under the Army Act 1952. Latif Afridi, the counsel for two of the convicts, said they had filed the appeal but were unaware of its fate. 
Afridi told the bench that the military court had not supplied copies of the judgment to the families of the convicts. 
Justice Dost Muhammad, who is heading the bench, remarked that the at least relatives of the convicts should know the basis for conviction so that they could attack it in their appeals. 
Afridi said the families were not allowed to meet the convicts, adding that according to the Pakistan Prison Rules relatives could meet prisoners in the jail. 
Interestingly, both Justice Dost and Justice Isa had opposed the establishment of military courts in the country, while issuing dissenting notes in the 21st constitutional amendment case on August 5, 2015. 
Earlier, another two-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmad, suspended on December 7, 2015 a military court ruling in which Qari Zahir Gul and Haider Ali had been convicted of terrorist acts and condemned to death. The matter was also referred to the chief justice with a recommendation for constitution of a larger bench but the case has not been listed for hearing thus far.
It would seem that a moment of truth is arriving on the question whether there will be meaningful civilian appellate review of 21st Amendment cases. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).