Upholds establishment of military courts
In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court dismissed all petitions against the establishment of the controversial military courts in a majority vote on Wednesday.
The apex court, in an 11-6 decision, dismissed a slew of petitions against the 21st Constitutional Amendment, wherein military courts have been established to try militants. The court, however, stated that all decisions of military courts would be subject to judicial review.
The 21st Constitutional Amendment was passed in January as part of a crackdown on militancy following a Taliban massacre at the Peshawar Army Public school which left more than 150 people - mostly students - dead.
A 17- judge full bench also dismissed petitions against the 18th Constitutional Amendment in a wide 143 decision. While announcing the judg- ment, Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk said, "In view of the respective opinions recorded above, by a majority of 13 to 4, these Constitution amendments are held to be maintainable."
"However, by a majority of 14 to 3, the Constitution petitions challenging the Constitution (18th Amendment) Act (Act X of 2010) are dismissed, while by a majority of 11 to 6 the Constitution petitions challenging the Constitution (21st Amendment) Act (Act 1 of 2015) and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act (Act II of 2015) are dismissed," he added.
A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk and comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, announced the decision of the lager bench early Wednesday morning.
In a detailed judgement, Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk declared that the superior judiciary has the authority to review any ruling of military courts on grounds of coram non judice (being without jurisdiction or suffering from mala fide).
The chief justice declared that the superior judiciary had the authority to review the government's selection of cases and refer them for trial under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952. However, he added any order passed, decision taken or sentence awarded shall be subject to judicial review.
According to the judgment, there are no limitations, express or implied on the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and the amendments brought about in exercise of such power are not liable to be challenged on any ground whatsoever before any court.
"As this court lacks jurisdiction to strike down any amendment in the Constitution, it is not necessary to examine the grounds on which the 18th and the 21st Amendments have been challenged.