Imran moves SC against ‘undeclared martial law’

ISLAMABAD, May 25: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Thursday filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) urging the apex court to take notice of the “undeclared martial law” in parts of the country and the ongoing aggressive crackdown on his party.

Imran, through his lawyer Hamid Khan, has requested the apex court to probe into the government’s decision to call “in the aid of the armed forces in the Federal Capital Territory, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in the purported exercise of powers under Article 245 of the Constitution”.

“The dictated exercise of this power by the federal cabinet in the absence of objective conditions for the exercise of that power is clearly violative of the fundamental rights,” the petition stated.

Imran also pleaded the SC to appoint a commission led by an SC judge to probe the events surrounding his arrest on May 9 and subsequent incidents.

Notably, cases against 16 ‘miscreants’ are scheduled to be heard by the military courts who were allegedly involved in attacking military installations and disrespecting memorials of the martyrs following the arrest of the former prime minister.

Several questions were posed before the top court in the application, not only about the nature of Imran’s arrest — which the SC had already declared unlawful — but also about the invocation of Army Act 1952 and Official Secrets Act 1923 against civilian offenders.

It also questioned, “whether the trial of civilian saboteurs who allegedly were involved in attacks on Corps Commander’s House (which is originally Jinnah House and this a civilian house for legal purposes) is without jurisdiction”.

Furthermore, “whether the trial of civil offences committed by civilians under the Army Act is against the provisions of Article 4,9, 10 A, 14 and 25 of the Constitution read with UN Charter of Human Rights and other international charters”.

The petition argues that trying civilians in military courts would be synonymous with denying them the right to life, due process and fair trial, the dignity of man and equal protection of law to the accused.

It also contends that the “deliberate, malafide, contumacious disregard” for court judgments passed by the SC concerning the provision of elections ought to be determined judicially.

The PTI chief has also pleaded with the apex court to take notice of the “unlawful arrests” of party leaders and others accused of vandalising state installations “without the registration of cases under the applicable laws”.

“The arrests, investigation and trial of civilians in peace-time under the Army Act 1952 read with the Officials Secrets Act 1923 in unconstitutional and void of no legal effect and amounts to the negation of the constitution, rule of law and independence of the judiciary,” the petition stated.

Furthermore, it deplored the arrests and detentions of the PTI party members, supporters and workers under the Maintainance of Public Order provisions as unconstitutional.

“The dismantling of PTI through forcible quitting of party membership and office,” it argued, “are unconstitutional and void of being against Article 17 of the Constitution”.

Though the PTI was successful in the first round of its confrontation with the government as party chief Imran Khan was released from the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with the support of the superior judiciary.

However, now there is a debate as to who will prevail in the second round of this confrontation as a massive crackdown is underway against the party leadership and workers for instigating and carrying out attacks on state properties and military installations in the wake of Imran’s arrest on May 9.

Once again, all eyes remain on the apex court as the PTI’s political future hangs in the balance.

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