RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court has directed the additional attorney general to file a detailed response in writing on Thursday (today) to the petition challenging the detention of a brigadier by military authorities and seeking his immediate release from their custody.
Additional Attorney General Mohammad Siddiq Awan, who was representing the defence ministry on Wednesday in a case filed by the spouse of Brig Akhtar Subhan, Ummaira Saleem, earlier informed the Rawalpindi bench of the LHC that the army officer was taken into custody on ‘serious charges’.
Brig Subhan, who was serving in Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Quetta, was allegedly involved in anti-state activities and corruption, he elaborated.
According to the petition, officials of Special Investigation Branch of the Military Police took her husband into custody on June 22. The petitioner demanded his release from their custody, citing sections 74 and 75 of Pakistan Army Act, 1952, read with Rule 23 and 24 of the Pakistan Army Act Rules, 1957, and alleged that the arrest and custody was illegal.
During the course of hearing when Justice Jawad Hassan of the LHC inquired from the petitioner about the constitutional bar of Article 199 (3), which excludes matters related to the proceeding of the armed forces personnel from the purview of the high courts, her lawyer retired col Inamur Rahim cited 15 judgements in which such petitions were not only entertained but the court also set aside the orders of the military authorities.
Some of the cases he cited were Brig Farrukh Bakht Ali, Shahida Zahir Abbasi, Lt Col Anwar Aziz, Raja Ishaque Qamar, Ghulam Abbas Niazi, Federation of Pakistan through Secretary Defence and others versus Abdul Basit, Risaldar Ghulam Abbas and others.
However, the counsel for the defence ministry argued that the matter was related to the disciplinary proceeding of the military officer, therefore, it did not come within LHC purview. He said the Supreme Court had already defined certain conditions for judicial scrutiny of the military courts proceedings.
Since the brigadier was taken into custody and being investigated for his alleged involvement in anti-state activities and corruption, his detention was subject to Pakistan Army Act and therefore not illegal, the additional attorney general said.
Subsequently, he added, this was not a habeas corpus case, particularly when the family of the detained officer knew his whereabouts.
Justice Hassan then directed Mr Awan to submit a detailed and written reply and adjourned the hearing till Thursday.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2023