ISLAMABAD - As the Full Court of the apex court was all set to hear the petitions against 21st and 18th amendments on Thursday (today), the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Wednesday challenged the death sentences recently awarded by military courts to six militants on terror charges.

Noor Saeed, Haider Ali, Murad Khan, Inayatullah, Israruddin and Qari Zahir were awarded death sentences by the military courts established under 21st Amendment in the Constitution and Pakistan Army Act 1952.

The seventh accused, Abbas, was given life sentence. The convicted were given right to appeal against the sentences. According to DG ISPR these persons were involved in acts of terrorism, manslaughter, suicide bombing and causing harm to life and property.

The SCBA, in the appeal filed through Asma Jahangir, prayed the court to pass an interim order staying execution of these persons, convicted to death by military courts, till the final disposal of the constitutional petition. The petitioner said that those convicted of death sentences were especially vulnerable as if executed it would be irreversible.

Asma further prayed that as the guardian of the Constitution the apex court had to ensure protection of fundamental rights. She said the recent trials of the military courts were neither public nor transparent and military trials did not ordinarily observe principles of due process thus SCBA’s apprehension was genuine and had merit.

The SCBA has already challenged the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2015 and sought the interpretation of 21st Amendment to the Constitution saying its operation and outcome has conflict with the fundamental rights.

The SCBA stated that only the names of the accused/convicts were given to the media and there was no other information available.

"The 21st Amendment by itself does not dismiss observance of fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution."

The petitioner stated that despite efforts the SCBA was unable to obtain information whether the provisions of Article 10, 10A, 12, 13 and 14 were applied during the trial process in the military courts.

“Were the persons arrested enemy aliens?” she questioned adding, “If they were not enemy aliens, were the accused informed of the grounds for such arrest? Were the accused given the right to consult and be defended by a lawyer of his choice? Were the accused produced before a magistrate?.”

The SCBA apprehended that the rights of the accused were not protected through a fair trial and by observing the established principles of due process, as guaranteed in Article 10A. The petitioner also apprehended that protection against retrospective punishment was not extended to the accused.