Families of May 9 accused clueless about military trial proceedings: report

    The families of several people arrested and charged with vandalizing the Lahore Corps Commander’s House and other state installations in Lahore during the violent riots of May 9, have claimed that they have been unable to meet their loved ones since the time they were taken into custody, according to a media report.

    At least 16 supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have been handed over to the army for holding their trials in a military court on charges that they attacked the military commander’s house in Lahore following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan in a corruption case.

    According to Voicepk, one of the detainees is 23-year-old Ahmed whose father, Advocate Junaid has not been able to get into contact with him since his arrest on May 15.

     “We have been told nothing about where he is being detained, what state he is in, what stage the investigation is at, whether he was given the right to counsel or even told of this right,” Junaid told the media outlet.

    Ahmed after being detained on May 15, was taken to the court at late hours yet was not allowed to enter the courtroom. The judge herself was in her chambers and was provided a list of names for identification purposes, he said.

    The report stated that when Junaid was able to meet his son for a short while, he learnt that his son along with several others had allegedly been tortured by the police; their aim being to pass Ahmed off as a leader of the mob. Junaid denied this claim, saying his son has no affiliation with the PTI and had taken part in the protest as an individual.

    Junaid said, “In the presence of Article 10A, the investigation is proceeding on illegal footing.”

    Families of the other detainees whose cases were sent for the military trial by the Lahore anti-terror court on May 25, have confided that they also have no clue about the whereabouts of their children.

    This brings into question the proceedings of the military court, which works on a separate system from civilian courts since there is a high level of secrecy involved and no outsiders are welcome in trials, including the media.

    According to the Pakistan Army Act of 1952 and Official Secrets Act 1923, there are highly specific instances in which civilians are to be tried in military courts which include the incitement of mutiny and spying. Those currently detained are being held under vague charges which is raising serious concerns about administration of justice, the report stated.

    According to the Army Act itself, those accused still withhold the right to obtain counsel and the right for adjournment but so far it is unclear whether those arrested have been made aware of their rights.


    On Saturday, a constitutional petition was filed in the Supreme Court (SC) on behalf of the civil society challenging the trial of civilians under the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

    The petition, filed through Advocate Faisal Siddiqi, puts forth certain questions of law that it deems important for “the enforcement of fundamental rights”.

    It asks whether the trial of suspected civilians under the Pakistan Army Act 1952 read with the Officials Secrets Act 1923 is violative of Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

    “Whether the trials of civilian accused persons under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, Read with, the Official Secrets Act, 1923, in relation to allege offenses recorded in…FIRs (all arising out of the alleged criminal acts committed on 9th and 10th May, 2023), are violative of Article 25, Constitution, 1973, until and unless legal and reasonable guidelines are framed to structure the discretion not to arbitrarily try civilian accused persons under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, instead of before criminal courts of general and special jurisdiction? [sic],” questions the petition.

    Advocate Siddiqi cites Articles 10-A, 25, and 175 of the Constitution and asks whether the two laws in question can be applied to suspects and citizens accused of vandalism witnessed on May 9 and 10 “until and unless the constitutional right to a fair trial and due process, including but not limited to a statutory right of appeal to an independent court (with its full power of appellate review), is provided through an appropriate legislation?”

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