PHC allows trial of rights activist by military court

High court remarks security forces arrested Idris Khattak under the Official Secrets Act


Yasir Ali February 01, 2021
Rejecting Khattak’s plea against the arrest and trial of the case in FGCM, PHC remarked that security forces had arrested Khattak under the Official Secrets Act. PHOTO: TWITTER/@IdrisKhattak

PESHAWAR:

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Monday allowed rights activist Idris Khattak to be tried by the field general court-martial (FGCM).

Rejecting Khattak’s plea against the arrest and trial of the case in FGCM, the PHC remarked that security forces had arrested Khattak under the Official Secrets Act.

“It is evident from the record that Muhammad Idris Khattak is arrested by the respondents [security forces] for allegedly being involved/committed offences under Official Secret Act, 1923 (The Act of 1923),” the verdict stated.

“Moving on to the arguments of the learned Deputy Attorney General regarding the territorial jurisdiction of this Court,” the verdict added, “Suffice it to mention that the accused was admittedly arrested in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the alleged offences which he has committed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, thus, the said objection that the place of trial of detenue being out of the province has not impressed us, therefore, the said objection is overruled,” the court further maintained in his judgment.

The high court also rejected the government's plea against hearing the petition in the PHC.

“The court can hear this appeal,” the PHC remarked.

Last year, the PHC had ordered the immediate release of military court convicts, saying that they were not given fair trial or chance to defend themselves and were convicted on over confessional statements.

Read more: PHC orders immediate release of military court convicts

A two-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth and Justice Muhammad Naeem Anwar, issued a 426-pages detailed judgment on the appeals of the convicts. The court allowed their release if they were not involved in any other case.

The judgment said that the convicted persons were neither allowed to meet their relatives nor given a chance to defend themselves. It also pointed out that there was no direct first information reports (FIRs) or complaint registered and no investigation was carried out to prove allegations against them.

The judgment added that the convicts were not given the right to file appeal on their own. Hence, the judgement described the entire proceedings against them as violation of relevant laws and the human rights.

In majority of the cases, the judgment said, they were arrested and kept in detention centres for months and years. The court maintained that the appellants were kept in isolation during custody and were not allowed to meet their relatives nor were they given a chance to defend themselves.

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