Financial assets: SC maintains LHC order to restore military official

Published: April 3, 2018
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Supreme Court dismisses plea against Col. Munir's reinstatement.. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Supreme Court dismisses plea against Col. Munir's reinstatement.. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The top court upheld on Tuesday a Lahore High Court (LHC) decision outlining that there could not be court martial of a military official over non-disclosure of financial assets.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Umar Ata Bandial, resumed hearing in the defence ministry’s petition regarding reinstatement of military official Col Munir Ahmad Gill.

According to the facts of the case, Gill was an army officer, who was tried by field general court martial (FGCM) on three charges relating to the money matters and fourth charge was relating to the improperly filing of his tax return for the year 1996.97 by declaring his salary as a sole source of income, knowing well that he had income from other sources as well.

He was found guilty in four charges on August 13, 1999. However the competent authority did not confirm the finding on three charges and sent the matter to the army chief, who maintained the order of his dismissal.

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However, the LHC set aside the military court’s order against him. The high court’ verdict was challenged in the apex court, which dismissed the petition. However, the Supreme Court admitted a review petition, which has also been rejected on Tuesday.

Col (retd) Muhammad Akram advocate was appeared on behalf of the respondent.

During the hearing, the bench observed that even in misrepresentation of assets, a military official would not qualify for court martial. Instead the matter would fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

AAGP Sajid Ilyas Bhatti submitted that there is an obligation for a military official that he should be truthful and honest in his conduct.

The bench; however, observed that the military court has no jurisdiction to remove any official on the basis of non-disclosure of assets.

Earlier, former Supreme Court judge Sarmad Jalal Osmany, while writing the judgment in 2014 on the same issue, had observed that the army authorities did not have jurisdiction to prosecute Munir on the charge of falsifying his tax return in particular circumstances of the case.

The court also noted that income tax return was accepted by the relevant authorities.

The Supreme Court had also maintained the LHC order that the respondent had reached the age of superannuation in the year 2001 and he would be deemed to honorably retire from Pakistan Army as Lieutenant Colonel in all the consequent benefits, including pension.

The litigation continued for 18 years in the matter.

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