Lawyers oppose govt decision to call army in Islamabad

July 29, 2014 - 12:00:00 am
Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Bar Association has filed a petition with the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the government decision to call out the army to secure the federal capital.

“A copy of the petition has also been delivered to the residence of IHC chief justice, Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi,” said Syed Nayyab Hassan Gardezi, a former IHC bar president and one of the counsel for the petitioners.

The federal government on Friday announced its decision to summon the army under Article 245 to aid the civilian law enforcement agencies in securing the capital over the next three months.

 Article 245 (1) reads: “The armed forces shall, under the directions of the federal government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so.”

Under Article 245 (3), “A high court ceases to exercise jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution in relation to any area in which the armed forces are for the time being acting in aid of civil power.”

According to advocate Gardezi, since the petition was finalised after the closing hours of the IHC registrar office and the petition was handed over to the available official at the IHC, a copy has been delivered to the residence of Justice Kasi.

He expressed the hope that the IHC would take up the matter yesterday, the last working day before Eid. Besides advocate Gardezi, the other counsel who will represent the petitioners - the Islamabad bar president Naseer Kayani and secretary Naeem Ali Gujjar - include Ahsanuddin Sheikh and former Islamabad bar president Niazullah Niazi.

The petition cited the cabinet, defence, interior and law secretaries as respondents.

It contended that since there was no sign of failure of the civil administration, the government could not call out the army in aid to civil law enforcement agencies.

It claimed that the army had been summoned without the approval of the federal cabinet and the prime minister who was in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.

It added that in the year 1977 the then prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, invoked Article 245 and summoned the army to aid the civilian government which led to the July 5, 1977, coup in which the then army chief, Ziaul Haq, toppled Bhutto’s government and established a dictatorial regime.

The petition urged the court to ask the PML-N government the reason behind its failure to maintain peace in the federal capital despite the presence of civilian machinery and hundreds of law enforcement personnel. It also requested the court to declare the notification to call out the army illegal.

It may be mentioned that an identical petition against the requisition of the army has also been filed with the IHC by Shahid Orakzai.

In his petition, Orakzai raised three questions: “Whether the federal government can invoke Article 245 at a time when the prime minister is outside country”, “whether the cabinet in Article 48 (1) shall mean the federal government even in the absence of the prime minister,” and “whether the federal government can suspend the writ jurisdiction of a high court in any territory where the armed forces are called without any threat of war or internal disturbance.”

The registrar office raised some administrative objections on the petition.