ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday was requested to initiate contempt proceedings against Defence Secretary Hamooduz Zaman Khan for allegedly disregarding the Oct 23 unanimous decision which had declared unconstitutional military trials of 103 civilians allegedly involved in May 9 violence.

The contempt petition was fil­ed by senior counsel Faisal Sid­diqui on behalf of Fahim Zaman Khan, Mahnaz Rahman, Prof Dr A. H. Nayyar and Syed Zulfiqar Hussain Gilani, contending the alleged contemnor was a party to the proceedings before the apex court in which trial of civilians by the military courts was challenged, pursuant to which the Oct 23 judgement came.

According to the petition, the alleged contemnor is responsible for the implementation of the directions issued on Oct 23 as the head of the defence ministry, which has to issue directions for the transfer of custody of persons to criminal courts.

“But contrary to clear and unambiguous declarations of the court, the continuing detention with the military authorities of persons identified in the list provided to the Supreme Court amounts to unconstitutional and illegal acts,” the plea read.

It reminded that the Oct 23 verdict had also declared as unconstitutional Sections 2(1)(d)(i) and (ii) and Section 59(4) of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 and ordered that the civilians arrested concerning May 9 and 10 events should be tried by criminal courts of competent jurisdiction established under the ordinary or special laws.

“This direction can only be complied with after the transfer of the custody of these civilians to the criminal courts of competent jurisdiction,” the petition contended.

The petition reminded that multiple intra-court appeals (ICA) against the Oct 23 order have been filed but no number has been fixed to these ICAs by the court office at the moment nor have they been fixed for hearing.

“Hence the Oct 23 order is still in the field and thus binding upon all parties, including the alleged contemnor,” it said.

It has been more than 43 days since the passing of the Oct 23 order but the relatives and friends of the persons identified in the list provided to the Supreme Court informed that the custody of these individuals had not been transferred to the criminal court of competent jurisdiction, said the petition, adding that they were still in illegal detention or custody of the military authorities.

The petitioners requested the court to initiate proceedings of contempt of court against the alleged contemnor for deliberate and mala fide disregard of the court order.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2023

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