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SC accepts pleas about formation of a larger bench to hear pleas pertaining to trials of civilians in military courts

ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday, the Supreme Court (SC) accepted pleas calling for the formation of a larger bench to hear appeals against the annulment of trials of civilians in military courts.

A six-member bench, headed by Justice Aminuddin, heard the appeals against the annulment of trials of civilians in military courts. Justices Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Shahid Waheed, Musrrat Hilali, and Irfan Saadat Khan are also part of the bench.

The lawyer representing former CJP Jawad S. Khawaja, one of the applicants, argued before the court that two SC judges, including Justice Afridi and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, suggested the formation of a larger bench to hear the appeals.

Justice Aminuddin questioned how the notes of judges could influence the bench hearing the case. Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar remarked that Justice Afridi’s observation was limited to the final verdict.

When asked by Justice Musarrat Hilali, the lawyer responded that the pleas would stand rejected if the current six-member bench gave a split verdict of 3-3.

At this point, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar suggested that a larger bench might be needed to address the matter.

The Supreme Court, after accepting the pleas for a nine-member or larger bench, referred the matter of military courts to the judges committee.

In the previous hearing, the Supreme Court had asked the attorney-general for details of the accused sentenced to three years in jail by military courts. The court ordered the release of 20 accused who were sentenced to one year in jail before Eid. The details of the accused released on Eid were submitted to the Supreme Court.

In May, the government decided to try suspects accused of attacking military installations under army laws. Violent clashes erupted across Pakistan after the former prime minister was arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court on May 9.

Army installations, the Corps Commander’s house in Lahore, and General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi came under attack during a protest by PTI workers.

Following the arrests made in connection with the violent riots, the government announced its decision to hold military court trials for those found guilty of damaging and attacking military installations—a move both the government and the army considered severe.

In light of this decision, PTI founder Imran Khan, former Chief Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, legal expert Aitzaz Ahsan, and five civil society members, including Piler Executive Director Karamat Ali, requested the apex court to declare the military trials “unconstitutional.”

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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