Saturday, June 10, 2017

Former Chief of the Army Staff of Indian Army writes on the Jadhav issue with special reference to Military Law in Pakistan

General VP Malik, a former Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army has written a detailed op-ed on the Jadhav issue with special reference to Military Justice in Pakistan, today in The Tribune.
An excerpt:
“...In military courts, the accused has a right to challenge the members and question its jurisdiction. There is no evidence that this vital right was offered to Jadhav. He was given assistance of a defending officer — a military officer with little or no legal qualification. Pakistan army court-martials under this Act do not allow the accused access to civil lawyers. The courts conduct trials in total secrecy. The location and timings of court-martials are not made public. 
Military law, like the civilian code of criminal procedure, mandates a court-martial not to accept a plea of guilty where the charge can involve a death sentence. The trial has to be processed considering the accused as ‘not guilty’. The confession has to be supported by corroborative evidence to establish his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. There is no such proof in this case.
The principle of fair justice warrants a written judgment by a court, explaining the logic behind the verdicts. But Pakistan military courts are not required to give such documents. Even the families of convicts are not told about the investigation and evidence related to the case. How can then one file an appeal against the verdict when essential evidence, findings and legal reasoning are not made public and given to the accused?
Under Section 133B of the PAA [Pakistan Army Act], an accused has no remedy against the decision of a court-martial except appeal. These Sections state any person to whom a court-martial has awarded a sentence of death, imprisonment for life, imprisonment exceeding three months or dismissal from service may prefer an appeal against the finding/sentence to a Court of Appeals headed by a Major-General within 40 days from the date of announcement of finding/sentence. The decision of the Court of Appeals cannot be called in question before any court or other authority whatsoever...”

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