Govt files petition against release of human rights lawyer
The Supreme Court heard on Wednesday the government’s appeal against the release of Colonel (retired) Inamur Rahim and said court martialing him would be against its previous order.
The Ministry of Defence had released the human rights lawyer in January after a Supreme Court order on medical grounds on the condition that he surrendered his passport.
Col Rahim, who has been fighting many cases for missing persons for years, was picked up from his home on December 17, 2019. The Lahore High Court had declared his detention illegal on January 9 and directed authorities to release him.
The Supreme Court has already made clear that a civilian cannot be court martialed, said Justice Munib Akhtar. For that to happen, constitutional changes will be needed, he said.
Court martialing Col Rahim would be against the Supreme Court’s orders, he said. Justice Akhtar said a military officer cannot be court martialed on a civilian offence. No matter who commits a criminal offence, a civilian or a soldier, it will be tried by a criminal court, he said.
Are people picked up without any thought or reason, asked Justice Mushir Alam. He said the decision to court martial someone or try them in a civilian court is made after receiving the statement of their commanding officer.
Additional Attorney-General Sajjad Ilyas Bhatti informed the court that he would consult the relevant order and submit a reply to the court’s questions. Approving his request, the court gave him three weeks to submit his reply.
Justice Alam advised him to prepare his arguments based on sections 94 and 95 of the Army Act and Section 549 of the CrpC. He also told him to assist the court by discussing the court martial of civilians.
During the hearing, Justice Alam asked how the Official Secret Act applied to Col Rahim if he had retired. AAGP Bhatti said while Col Rahim had been released, he was still being investigated.
The hearing was adjourned for three weeks.