Military court action: SC rejects judicial review plea for all convicts

Published: January 30, 2016



The Supreme Court has refused to entertain a plea for providing a judicial review to all civilians and servicemen convicted so far by military courts.

The petition was filed under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution by the military’s former assistant advocate general Lt Col (retd) Inamul Rahiem, who is now a practicing lawyer. It requested the SC to form a body composed of ‘the judicial minds’ uninfluenced by the commands of the armed forces for reviewing all the orders of military courts.

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It said there were three groups, which have been handed death sentences by the military courts. Two groups were handed down capital punishment following the passing of the 21st constitutional amendment while one group was sentenced to death prior to the incorporation of the amendment.

The petition claimed that none of the groups was allowed to engage a counsel and to lead witnesses in their defence and in the end all were denied trial proceedings. It said if the judicial review could not be provided to these culprits then it would be considered an extrajudicial killing through a military judicial system.

Rahiem said a military convict faced a trial after a trial in the form of revision non-confirmation and retrial with no limits till his conviction and sentence.

“A civilian enjoys a hierarchy of courts with appellate powers each having their own power of judicial review whereas it is equally distressing that a military convict is not having even a single judicial review,” he added.

Last year, the SC registrar office had returned the petition by raising several objections.

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The office said petition appeared ‘frivolous’ prima facie. “Likewise, it is further objected that neither the petitioner is the aggrieved person nor he approached the high court or any other forum,” the registrar had noted. He had maintained that the top court has already attended that issue in the 18th and 21st Constitutional Amendment case judgment.

Rahiem later filed an appeal against the registrar office objections. The appeal in the chamber was heard by the acting Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday.

The applicant contended that in the light of 21st constitutional amendment case, the aggrieved person might approach the superior courts on the grounds of ‘coram non judice’, without justification, suffering from malafide and the question of public importance was involved.

Expressing reservations over the registrar office’s remark that his petition was frivolous he said the remarks were against a member of the bar were highly unwarranted. “Therefore, disciplinary action should be taken against the officer responsible,” he said.

However, the acting CJ maintaining the registrar office’s order on Friday and rejected the appeal, saying the petitioner is not an aggrieved person in the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th,  2016.

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