History of military courts in pakistan
There is wide range of negotiations and discussions on the topic of 'military Court 'in Pakistan after the events of 9 May.The discussions in common circles and on media outlets is largely on the topic of military courts.It is pertinent to mention here that the saga of military courts started from the very outset of Pakistan's birth.The first military tribunal was established to held the trial of Rawalpindi conspiracy case perpetrators in 1951.Rawalpindi conspiracy was an alleged attempt to overthrow the government of liaquat Ali Khan notably planned by military general Akbar Khan,poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz,and writer sajjad Zaheer along with 12 parliament passed the Rawalpindi conspiracy (special tribunal) Act to setup special military tribunal.This military tribunal sentenced the long imprisonment to all the perpetrators of Rawalpindi conspiracy case.In 1953 anti-ahmadiyya riots erupted in Punjab which deteriorated the law and order situation in Punjab particularly in Lahore.Due to deteriorated situation of law and order on 6 March 1953 martial law was imposed in Lahore.Military courts started the trial of anti-ahmadiyya movement leaders molana Abdul Sattar niazi and molana maududi and sentenced the both with death penalty.But on 14 May 1953 martial lifted and the death penalty awarded molana niazi and maududi by military court also become void.In 1958 Ayub Khan imposed martial law in Pakistan and assumed onto himself as chief martial law administrator and president of Pakistan.Ayub Khan setup military courts for the victimisation of opposition.These military courts courts sentenced the imprisonment to nawab Akbar bugti,who is minister in federal government whom Ayub Khan sacked,and nawab narooz Khan.Nawab Akbar bugti also disqualified from contesting election.In 1969 Yahya Khan imposed martial law in Pakistan.His also continued the trial of political opponents and sentenced imprisonment to many politicians. 1977 Prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto made summary military courts in accordance with article 245 of constitution to restore law and order situation in the country which is deteriorated due to opposition agitation on rigging in polls of 1977.But Lahore and Sindh high courts declared these summary military courts ultra vires of constitution and violative of the fundamental human rights enshrined in constitution. In 1998 PML-N government led by Nawaz Sharif established military courts in Sindh.Nawaz government also passed an ordinance which limit the appeals against the verdict of military courts.However,Supreme court of Pakistan in Sheikh liaquat Hussain v. Federation of Pakistan PLD 1999 SC 504 declared the military courts ultra vires of the constitution. In 2015,after terrorist attack on army public school in Peshawar,a national consensus led to approval of 20 point national action plan by parliament.One aspect of National action plan was the creation of military courts for trying terrorism offences.So,in 2015 parliament passed 21 amendment act.21st amendment allow the establishment of military courts for 2 years and allow military courts to try civilians in terrorism-related offences.But in 2018, Peshawar high court judge justice saith waqar set aside the punishment of 200 suspected terrorist awarded by military courts.The court held that accused were denied for fari trial.The court also highlight the human rights violations. The government of Pakistan and military command promised that the perpetrators of 9 May event will be brought to book.Government of Pakistan announced that the trial of accused will held in military courts instead of ordinary courts.Various petitions were filed in supreme court challenging the decision of government to try civilians in military courts by notable lawyers including Aitzaz Ahsan,Supreme court bar association,and civil society members.Supreme court of Pakistan in his short judgement dated 23 October 2023 declared the military courts ultra vires of the constitution.The Honourable court held that clause(d) of subsection(1) of section 2 and subsection.(4) of section 59 of Pakistan army act,1953 are ultra vires of the constitution and of no legal effect.The court also ordered that the trial of accused in relation to 9 May events shall be held in ordinary criminal courts of sompetent jurisdiction established under ordinary and/or special law of the land. It is evident in face of history that rulers in Pakistan,whatever elected representatives or dictators,tried to rule as autocrat and ttempt to userp the fundamental human rights of citizens granted by constitution.It is also proved that judiciary Inspite of its chequered history come from time to time to protect the rights of citizens.