On December 13, a six-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Pakistan suspended its own past ruling and allowed the trial of civilians in military courts. The majority ruling of the country’s highest court was condemned by opposition political parties and activists.
Ammar Ali Jan, of the Haqooq-e-Khalq party, said that military courts are a “collective shame and humiliation for all those who believe in democracy.”
The main opposition party, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, called the verdict a “violation of fundamental human rights.”
Munizae Jahangir, co-chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said, “Those advocating the trial of civilians in military courts are denying citizens a right to [a] fair trial.”
The judgment paves the way for the trial of opposition party leaders and members in these military courts. The ruling allows such trials on the condition that the final verdicts would be conditional on the Supreme Court’s orders which may be passed in the future.
In June, Pakistan’s National Assembly adopted a resolution seeking the trial of those accused in the May 9 violence under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952. The act provides for a trial of “enemies of the state” and members of the military in courts operating differently from the rest of the country’s legal system.
Over 100 civilians, some of them leaders of the opposition party, are being tried by military courts for their alleged role in the attacks on military installations during the protests following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan on May 9.