Islamabad [Pakistan]: The Pakistan National Assembly has passed the 28th Constitutional Amendment Bill to reinstate military courts with 255 votes in favour and four against.
The bill, presented by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid on Tuesday, states on the outset that “an extraordinary situation and circumstances still exist which demand continuation of the special measures adopted for expeditious disposal of certain offences” as the reasons necessitating the revival of military courts, reports the Dawn.
The 28th Constitutional Amendment will now be presented to Senate, where it will need two-thirds approval in order to become law.
If the bill is passed, it will reinstate military courts for a period of two years starting January 7, 2017 – the date on which military courts had lapsed under the previous arrangement.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also present for Tuesday’s session.
Criticising the government at the session, Pakistan Muslim League-Zia MNA Ijazul Haq noted that if the National Action Plan had been implemented in letter and spirit, the need to revive military courts would not exist.
Pakistan had legalised military court trials of terror suspects for a period of two years in January 2015 – soon after the terror attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School in Dec 2014, in which 144 people, most of them children, were killed by Taliban militants.
These courts were given a two-year constitutional cover that ended in January. Military courts were disbanded on January 7 after a sunset clause included in the legal provisions under which the tribunals were established, expired.
The controversial special powers empower military courts to try civilian terror suspects.
The military courts do not grant convicts the essential components of a fair and free trial, as they lack in transparency and do not allow convicts the option to appeal to civilian courts. This was the primary concern of critics of military court trials. (ANI)