The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday filed a petition before the Supreme Court against the government’s decision to prosecute civilians under the Army Act; conduct an ongoing crackdown against its workers after the May 9 riots; and summon the armed forces in aid of civil power under Article 245 of the Constitution.
Moved by PTI Additional Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan on behalf of the party, the petition seeks the apex court’s intervention under Article 184(3) and raises 22 questions over the scope of the Army Act; whether the armed forces’ requisition violates Article 17; and whether the deployment is a “threat to the system of parliamentary democracy.” The petition further seeks the court’s ruling on whether the requisition of armed forces is “mala fide and in excess of jurisdiction” due to the government earlier stating it could not ensure security for elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
“Whether the trial of civilians through military courts is a clear violation of the constitutional guarantees of due process and fair trial and violation of Pakistan’s existing obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as the jurisprudence developed by this Honorable Court?” asked the plea, adding that the limited circumstances in which military courts were utilized for civilians required a constitutional amendment and related to hardcore terrorists only. The PTI’s workers and supporters now being sought to be tried through military courts were not part of any terrorist organization and posed no threat to national security, the petition maintained.
Citing Articles 9, 14, 17, 19 and 23, the petition argues that the government’s decision to deploy the Army was aimed at depriving the citizens of Pakistan of access to their constitutional right to life, dignity, association, equality and protection of property. It also questioned the federal government’s support for a public gathering of the ruling alliance outside the Supreme Court while Section 144 was imposed in the federal capital, saying this was “discriminatory” and violated Article 25, which ensures equality of citizens.
The petition further alleged that the power of Article 245 was not rightly exercised by the cabinet, which had to approve the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments’ request for military deployment. It also raised questions over the constitutional authority of the provincial governments, noting the time period allocated to them constitutionally had lapsed.
According to the petition, the PTI believes the ongoing campaign “labelling” PTI as a terrorist organization is yet another tactic aimed at delaying elections and ousting party chairman Imran Khan and the party from the electoral process.