November 22, 2023
The legal fraternity appears divided over the interim government’s mandate to challenge the Supreme Court’s verdict against the trials of civilians under the Pakistan Army Act 1952.
On October 23, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court declared the trials of civilians in military courts illegal. On November 17, the interim federal government along with the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan filed an intra-court appeal against the decision.
Earlier on November 16, it was reported that Sindh also lodged an appeal against the verdict, however the interim Sindh government on November 18 categorically denied filing such an appeal.
On Monday, November 20, another appeal was filed by the Ministry of Defence against the judgement.
Meanwhile addressing a press conference on Monday, November 20, veteran lawyer Hamid Khan had specified that the caretaker government has no mandate to challenge the Apex Court’s decision.
“The whole nation has accepted the court’s verdict [on the matter],” he said.
But, senior lawyer and former Chair of the Senate, Wasim Sajjad, said that appeals can be filed by caretaker setups within the given timeframe.
“In my opinion, it is a routine matter. If you do not give [the caretaker government] the right to appeal, the time period to file an appeal will expire,” he added.
Former Federal Minister for Law and Justice Khalid Ranjha also mirrored Sajjad’s opinion, stating that interim governments have every mandate to take any step in the interest of the country.
Former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBAP) Yasin Azad also said he could not endorse Khan’s opinion as “The constitution fully enables caretaker governments to file an appeal.”
It is to be noted that the interim federal government has already filed an intra-court appeal against the Supreme Court’s verdict declaring recent NAB amendments null and void.
Expressing his views on the matter, senior lawyer and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) Senator Kamran Murtaza said there is no issue with interim governments filing an appeal, however, an elected government can later decide whether to withdraw the appeal or not.