Tuesday, February 2, 2016

No constitutional rights?

The government has made a remarkable argument in the Sindh High Court, attempting to fend off an attack on the transfer of a high-profile case to military court. In a nutshell, the claim is that the accused enjoys no constitutional rights. [Sounds like Guantánamo.] Here is an excerpt from this account in The Express Tribune:
The Islamic State-inspired suspects involved in killing 45 members of the Ismaili community last year should be tried by the military court as they do not deserve any constitutional rights, said provincial authorities before the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday. 
Refuting the two petitions filed by families of the two suspects – Muhammad Naeem Sajid and Hussain Umer Siddiqui – facing trial for their involvement in the Safoora Goth attack, Sindh prosecutor general (PG) Shahadat Awan said the trial was rightly transferred from the anti-terrorism court to the military court. 
“The trial has strictly been transferred according to law,” he said while defending the decision. The suspect’s family members, Ambreen Naeem and Hira Siddiqui, had challenged the interior ministry’s decision of December 10, 2015 to transfer the trial from Karachi’s anti-terrorism court (ATC)-VI to the military court established under provisions of the Protection of Pakistan Act (PPA). 
Objecting to procedures adopted by federal and provincial authorities to transfer the trial, the petitioners argued that under Section 17(4) of PPA no case can be transferred to the military court without approval of the relevant trial court. They argued that such a transfer was illegal and without lawful authority, as no prior approval had been obtained from the ATC. 
The petitioners said that such a trial will be against the law as well as in violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the right to a fair trial. Therefore, they had pleaded to the high court to declare transfer of the Safoora Goth attack trial from the ATC to military court as illegal.

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