PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday stopped the provincial government from transferring a case of two alleged extortionists from an anti-terrorism court to a military court and asked it to explain who was authorised to send cases to military courts and what such cases were.

Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Irshad Qaisar were hearing a petition of two Afghan brothers, Hizbullah and Mohibullah, who challenged the recommendation of the counter-terrorism department to the government to transfer their extortion case against them to a military court.

The bench fixed Feb 24 for the next hearing into the case asking additional advocate general Umar Farooq Adam to produce the reply of the home department to the petition by then.

Jamil Warsak, lawyer for the petitioners, said the CTD had arrested his clients last year on the charge of seeking Rs1 million extortion from a Faqirabad resident, Bashir Khan, and registered a case against them under Section 7(h) of the Anti-Terrorism Act and sections 506 and 507 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Asks govt to explain who could send cases to military courts and what such cases were

He said the bail petition of his clients was dismissed first by an anti-terrorism court and then by the high court.

Mr. Warsak however said the high court had directed the trial court to conclude hearing into the case against the two within three months.

He said three months passed but the trial of his clients didn’t begin, so they moved the ATC and learned that the CTD had recommended to the government to transfer their case to a military court.

The lawyer said the recommendation was made through a letter sent to the government on Aug 28, 2015.

He said the CTD was not authorised to make such recommendation and that only the government could decide about the transfer of cases to military courts on its own but after scrutiny.

Mr. Warsak said the cases could be referred to military courts under either Action (In Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011, Protection of Pakistan Act, or the Constitution (21st Amendment) Act, 2015.

He said the Constitution (21st Amendment) Act, 2015, empowered the government to refer to military courts the cases against only those, who claimed, or were known, to be members of any terrorist group or organisation, using the name of religion or a sect.

The lawyer said the same provision was part of the amendment made to the Pakistan Army Act to try militants.

He said the trial of his clients in the extortion case could be conducted by the anti-terrorism court and not the military court.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2016