Pakistan Bar Council to challenge 21st amendment in SC

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has decided to challenge the controversial 21st constitutional amendment in the Supreme Court and would hold a country-wide strike and a day of mourning on Jan 29 against the legislation.

The apex court has already admitted for hearing petitions against the amendment, recently passed by Parliament to give legal cover to military courts for trying terrorism suspects.

Lawyers would appear with black arm bands in the courts of law across the country on the strike day, said a statement issued by the council on Tuesday.

“With the decision of establishing military courts, an attempt has been made to undermine the importance of judiciary in the country” said the statement.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice SC Nasirul Mulk, is scheduled to hear the petitions on January 28. The other two judges on the bench are Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Mushir Alam.

The petition, filed by the Lahore High Court (LHC) Bar Association at the Supreme Court’s Lahore registry, challenges the establishment of military courts and disapproves the 21st Constitutional Amendment.

Six similar petitions were filed in the apex court challenging the formation of military courts and the 21st Amendment.

The petitioners maintain that the Constitution does not provide any room for military courts, and that the 21st Amendment deviates from the basic structure of the Constitution. The petitions also argue that forming of military courts establishes a parallel judicial system.

The petitions state the 21st amendment affects clauses in the Constitution pertaining to basic human rights, and plead to the apex court to strike down the legislation.