Mired in uncertainty: PHC reserves judgment over its jurisdiction in FATA

Seeks details of 1973’s discussion on Article 247, records of SC decisions regarding administration of tribal belt.

Our Correspondent April 05, 2014
Peshawar High Court. PHOTO: PPI


The Peshawar High Court (PHC) reserved its decision on Friday over 60 constitutional petitions regarding its jurisdiction to hear cases from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Earlier last month, a larger bench headed by PHC Chief Justice Mian Fasihul Mulk put forward seven basic questions before a panel of senior lawyers, asking them to assist the court in the next hearing.

The bench, which includes Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Malik Manzoor, began hearing the petitions on Friday.

While assisting the court over questions regarding Article 247 of the Constitution, i.e. the administration of Fata, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Syed Atiq Shah presented his views on how to approach deliberating on the court’s jurisdiction in the said region.

The chief justice asked Shah to present details of a discussion on Article 247 that took place in Parliament in 1973 and the AAG agreed to provide the bench with this information.

While advising the judges, Shah said PHC held authority in cases involving employees from federal and provincial departments working in Fata. He made sure to point out that only the court could decide whether arrests of the tribesmen by political administration officials were legal or illegal.

Upon concluding the hearing, the bench reserved its decision and asked to see details of 1973’s discussion on Article 247, as well as the records of Supreme Court decision’s regarding the administration of Fata.

Separately, a division bench issued contempt of court notices to chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and chief executives of cellular service providers in a case of unregistered SIMs, filed in PHC on Friday.

The bench comprised Justice Irshad Qaisar and Justice Ikramullah. The petitioner’s counsel told the court that the bench had asked chairman PTA and the chief executives of service providers to produce SIM records they issued over the last five years, which they have failed to do so far.

The court asked the mobile company chiefs and PTA chairman to answer the contempt of court notices in 15 days.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2014.


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