The historic decision of the Supreme Court about the trials of civilians under Military Courts would discourage terrorists

The historic decision of the Supreme Court about the trials of civilians...

Islamabad, Pakistan: In a historic decision, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended the October 23 ruling order by a five-membered bench of the Supreme Court wherein it had declared Civilians’ trials in Military Courts null and void in connection with the May 9 riots. 

On December 13, 2023, a six-member bench allowed the trials of civilians in Military Courts. It allowed the Military Court to continue their trials and fixed the third week of January 2024 for a hearing of the case for a final decision.

   

This historic decision will have far-reaching consequences as the Supreme Court’s decision is an expression of understanding with ground realities and accepted the administrative move of the state, ignoring all the propaganda by a political party and pressure groups. Today’s decision surely has strengthened the state of Pakistan and the Supreme Court has proved with this decision that it is with the state only without bias and political interest in serious matters related to national security. It is pertinent to mention that the Supreme Court did not care about propaganda on social media and proved that the Supreme Judiciary will give decisions only on the merit of the cases instead of considering any political, linguistic, or personal interest of any group or party. This decision is bad news for the perpetrators of terrorism, anarchy, and political riots in the country as now the law will take its course against them with iron hands to effectively deal with terrorist elements, their followers, their handlers, and their supporters.

It was understood that the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s October 23, 2023 decision against the trial of civilians in military courts played a pivotal role in boosting the morale of terrorists who have resources to scot-free from civilian courts, resulting in a recent wave of terrorism in Pakistan. In the last 40 days, there were three horrific attacks on military installations and an overall increase in terrorism was 50 percent higher than in October 2023.

Related Story: The question of trial of civilians in Military Courts and bleeding national security

It may be remembered that the Federation was of the view that thousands of civilians had been disposed of under military law under the Pakistan Army Act 1952 and 1967- The Supreme Court of Pakistan has already given several decisions in the light of these laws. One of the reasons behind trying civilians in military court is that Pakistan’s criminal law is the weakest in the world and people can easily be given relief at will the International Court of Justice has also recognized the decisions made under the Army Act as due process.

There are several followers of PTI in jail for their alleged involvement in the attack on GHQ Rawalpindi, Corps Commander House Lahore, attack on PAF Base Mianwali, attack on ISI Civil Lines Faisalabad, Hamza Camp, Bannu Camp, and Gujranwala Camp. In the past, there have been attacks in GHQ, Karachi Airport, and Budh Bir including military installations. Trials of the attacks in the past were not in civil but in military courts.

Why Military Courts Trial is needed in cases where the state was under target?

The snail-pace working of courts, manipulating the facts and eye-witnesses, and redundant law of witnesses are some of the reasons that place Pakistan’s civil judicial system at the lowest in the world.

In February 2023, the Supreme Court released data on the pendency of cases in the Supreme Court and said that a total of 24,303 cases were decided during the period from 2nd Feb 2022 to 25th Feb 2023 against the total institution of 22,018 new cases during the said period. The pendency/backlog of cases in the Supreme Court of Pakistan has thereby been reduced by 2,285 cases from 54,735 to 52,450. The number of cases decided in the annual period ending February 2023 is the highest since 2018 when the total disposal was 16,961 cases.

Meanwhile, a newspaper report published by Daily Dawn on July 13, 2022, indicated that the superior and lower judiciaries have a backlog of 2.144 million cases as 4.102m cases were decided and 4.06m new cases were filed during 2021.

The report further indicates that the Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court, and five high courts of the country disposed of 229,822 cases and 241,250 new cases were instituted during last year and pending cases stood at 389,549 before the superior courts on Dec 31 while the same tally was 378,216 on Jan 1, 2021.

The report added that 1,783,826 cases were pending trial at the start of last year before the district judiciary of the country and it adjudicated 3,872,686 cases and 3,822,881 fresh cases were filed during last year and total pendency stood at 1,754,947 before lower judiciary on Dec 31.

While referring to the sources the report said that according to the statistics gathered by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, at the start of 2021, 46,695 cases were pending before the Supreme Court and at the end of the year, they stood at 51,766 as 12,838 cases were decided while 18,075 new cases filed at the apex court last year.

An academic paper published in the Journal of Law & Social Studies (JLSS) (Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 124-132) titled “Justice Delayed or Denied: The Myth of Justice in Pakistan” authored by Dr. Muhammad Bilal who has done his Ph.D. degree in Law from the United Kingdom believes that:

“ A report “Study of the informal justice system in Pakistan” estimated that Pakistani courts need “15 years” to try the backlog of pending cases and there will be a condition that in those “15 years” no new case should be instituted in the courts. Normally Pakistani courts take “25 years” to decide a case and “5 years” more to execute the decree (Khan, 2004). Due to such behavior of courts, the cases are accruing day by day. In January 2021 the number of pending cases was “2162042” (Statement of cases Pending, January 2021). But according to “Consolidate statement of pending cases, pendency, institution and disposal of cases during the period August 2021” the Pakistani Judiciary has a backlog of “2,177,527” cases in August So from January to August 15485 cases added to the stock of pending cases. The cases are accumulating day by day consequently, delaying and denying justice”.

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