October 3, 2023

Army Act not applicable to fundamental human rights, Attorney General

Rejects plea to stay civilians’ trial in military courts

SC adjourns hearing of military courts’ case after AGP seeks time

Islamabad_Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan during the hearing of petitions challenging the government’s decision to conduct trials of civilians in military courts told the Supreme Court that Army Act does not applicable to fundamental human rights.  A larger bench of the Supreme Court on Friday adjourned indefinitely the hearing on a set of petitions challenging the government’s decision to conduct trial of civilians in military courts.

A six-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, resumed hearing on Friday. The bench comprises Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Ayesha Malik.

Several people challenged the government’s decision to conduct trial of civilians in military courts after violent riots and protests erupted across the country and several installations and buildings were attacked and vandalised. The government announced that those found guilty of attacking military infrastructure would be tried in military courts.

Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan requested the Supreme Court to give a month on the matter of granting the right of appeal to people to be tried in military courts. “This matter needs very careful consideration; It has to be done in such a way that the country’s position at the global level is not affected,” the AGP said.

Previous hearing 

In the previous hearing, CJP Umar Ata Bandial observed that the Pakistan Army Act 1952 did not apply to all but to a “specific class”.

As the hearing began, AGP Mansoor Usman Awan came to the rostrum and said the apex court had issued him directives in the last hearing. He said he had spoken about the “organised” plan behind the violent events of May 9.

“From the video clips shown in court, it is evident that a lot of people were involved in the events of May 9,” he said. “Despite the large number, after exercising caution, 102 people were pinpointed for court martial,” he said.

At one point, Justice Naqvi asked how it was decided who would be tried in military courts and who wouldn’t. Awan said the offences under Section 2(1)(d) of the Army Act would be tried in military courts.

“Is the Army Act outside the bounds of fundamental human rights?” asked Justice Afridi. The AGP responded in the affirmative, saying that fundamental rights were not applicable on the Army Act.


Following the arrests made in connection with the violent riots that erupted across the country on May 9, the government announced its decision to hold military court trials of those found guilty of damaging and attacking military instalments — a move both the government and the army considered a low blow.

In light of this decision, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, former chief justice Jawwad S Khawaja, legal expert Aitzaz Ahsan, and five civil society members, including Piler Executive Director Karamat Ali, requested the apex court to declare the military trials “unconstitutional”.

In this petition filed through his lawyer, the former CJP pleaded that Section 2(1)(d)(i) and (ii) of the Pakistan Army Act were inconsistent with the fundamental rights granted by the Constitution and should be struck down.

Moreover, five members of civil society from different cities — represented by Faisal Siddiqi — appealed to the apex court to declare illegal the trial of civilians in the military courts.