The government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, contesting a decision by a five-member bench that declared the trial of civilians in military courts to be illegal.
The intra-court appeal from the Ministry of Defence calls for the revocation of the October 23 decision, seeking to reinstate sections of the Official Secrets Act and Section 59(4) of the Army Act, which were previously declared illegal by the bench.
The Ministry of Defence’s petition expresses concerns that declaring certain sections of the Army Act and Official Secrets Act illegal could threaten national security. Additionally, the caretaker Sindh government and the Shuhada Forum of Balochistan have independently requested the Supreme Court to overturn its judgment regarding the unconstitutional nature of civilian trials in military courts.
These appeals come in the wake of a significant ruling where the court, led by Justice Ijazul Ahsen, declared such trials unconstitutional and stated that related cases should be tried in criminal courts under ordinary or special laws.
Context of the Supreme Court’s Decision and Political Implications
The decision to use military courts, made during Shehbaz Sharif’s government, faced opposition for lacking transparency, leading to challenges by groups including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. With Sharif’s term ending in August and a caretaker government in place for the upcoming January election, the debate over using military courts has intensified.
The appeal’s backdrop of significant political unrest, highlighted by the storming of military and government installations by supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan following his brief detention by the Punjab Rangers.