ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Monday moved the Supreme Court (SC), under Article 184(3), against the trial of civilians in military courts and deployment of armed forces in aid of the civil power under Article 245 of the Constitution across the country.
A petition was moved by PTI Additional Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan on behalf of the party to seek the apex court intervention. Barrister Gauhar Khan and Uzair Karamat Bhandari submitted the petition and federal and provincial governments as well as the inspectors general of police (IGPs) were made parties in the petition. Also decisions of the SC and high court regarding elections were made part of the application. It was pleaded in the petition that the armed forces’ deployment under Article 245 was being used to politically victimise the PTI and that trial of the civilians accused of May 9 arson in military courts was a clear violation of due process and Pakistan’s commitment to international laws.
It maintained that the “trial of thousands of workers of a political party or a political leader through such courts is unheard of in the history of this country”. “The workers and supporters now sought to be tried through military courts are not part of any terrorist organisation and pose no threat to national security. Thus it is contrary to the Constitution to try civilian protesters thorough military courts,” added the petition.
The petition says that the federal government’s requisition of the armed forces in order to quell and repress their political opponents purely to disable them from exercising their constitutional rights is a gross violation of Article 17 of the Constitution. “The police and civilian forces were fully capable of facilitating and allowing the public to carry out their protest. In such a situation, when the civil forces were not overawed, there is no justification for requisition of the armed forces,” the petition further maintained.
The PTI said in its petition that protest against an unlawful action – arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan – was now being used as a pretext in order to launch a crackdown on the largest political party in Pakistan and to dismantle it through detention and fear.
“Even if the invocation of Article 245 was justified, its continuation is not as the intensity of the protests has lessened and it is merely being used as an excuse to launch massive crackdowns in their worst form on the leaders, workers and supporters of the PTI and the armed forces are acting in suppression of civil power rather than aid of civil power,” it says. The petition also urged the apex court to examine if the requisition of the armed forces is “mala fide and in excess of jurisdiction” as the federal government had claimed that they could not be deployed due to the security situation during elections. It was prayed that the apex court may declare the federal government’s invocation and deployment of armed forces in aid of civil power under Article 245 of the Constitution in Islamabad, Punjab, KP and Balochistan as unlawful and unconstitutional.