SHC questions civilians’ trial under Army Act

Published: November 16, 2012

Four of the missing persons are being tried on espionage charge. DESIGN: SIDRAH MOIZ KHAN

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has questioned whether or not a civilian facing espionage charges could be tried under the field court martial.

The court seeks the helps of a federal law officer before it adjudicates in the cases of some missing persons. Chief Justice Mushir Alam, who headed the division bench, raised this question on Thursday during the hearing of identical petitions seeking the court’s help to know the whereabouts of five missing persons.

Petitioner Mushtaq Ahmed had gone to the high court to seek whereabouts of his relative, Naik Maula Bux of Baloch Regiment, who was allegedly picked up by the army authorities on May 25, 2010. He has been untraceable since then.

Four other petitioners – Jalal, Jian Khan, Mehar Ali and Haji Mohammad – had also approached the court to find where their relatives had gone.

The detainees, including Wasayo, Mohammad Bux, Habibullah and Roshandin, who were all civilian employees of the army, were detained by the army from Chore and Umerkot between January and September last year.

On Thursday, a federal law officer filed a list sent by the assistant judge advocate general of the Pakistan Army.

He submitted that Maula Bux, ex-Sepoy of 12 Baloch Regiment, was detained on espionage charges and tried by the field general court martial. He has been sentenced to eight years of imprisonment and was dismissed from service.

Habibullah, a civilian cook at the Combined Military Hospital in Chhor, was also arrested on espionage charges, but later dismissed from service without field court martial. Roshan Din, a sepoy of Sindh Regiment, was facing field general court martial on espionage charges and the trial had not yet concluded.

The army officer said that two civilians, Mohammad Bux and Wassayo, were also arrested on espionage charges and were facing general field court martial that was likely to be concluded shortly.

Advocate Noor Naz Agha, the lawyer representing petitioners, questioned the trial of civilians under the Army Act.

After hearing arguments, the bench directed the federal law officer to assist the court as to whether or not a civilian could be tried under field court martial. The hearing was later adjourned.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2012.

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