ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday issued notices to the federation of Pakistan in a petition challenging the invoking of article 245 in the federal capital.

Chief Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi directed the federation to submit its reply by August 6 and adjourned the hearing.

The CJ also directed the federation to submit the notification of calling in the army in the federal capital and said that the court would conduct the proceedings of the petition on daily basis after Eid vacations. He issued these directions in a petition moved by President Islamabad Bar Association (IBA) Naseer Ahmad Kayani and Chaudhary Naeem Gujjar Advocate, secretary general of IBA.

Earlier on Friday, the federal government had 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. The petitioners Kayani and Gujjar prayed to the court in their petition that the notification/ order whatsoever issued by the federal government for calling the army in ICT in aid to civil power through any of the respondents may be declared unlawful, unconstitutional and without legal authority allowing the civil administration to perform its functions in accordance with the constitution and law.

The petitioners moved the petition through Syed Nayab Hassan Gardezi Advocate, Ahsanuddin Sheikh Advocate, Raza Ullah Khan Advocate and Mohiuddin Amir Mughal and made Secretaries of cabinet, defense, interior and law as respondents.

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

The petitioners maintained 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.

They stated that in 1977, 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.

They requested 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. The petitioners also requested the court to declare the notification to call in the army illegal.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has decided to strongly oppose the government’s decision to impose article 245 in the federal capital, stressing the need for discussing its grave consequences on the floor of the house.

Terming the government’s decision a complete failure of the civil administration, the PPP senior parliamentarians strongly criticised the move soon after its announcement. The PPP’s senior lawmakers were of the opinion that democratic government’s hiding behind an institution would not establish a good trend.

The decision is pregnant with serious consequences for the people and the country, as it means not only failure of the civil administration but also total suspension of the jurisdiction of the high courts, they said giving immediate reaction on the government’s move.

Sources said the opposition party’s immediate strong reaction has led the government to clarify its position about its decision of imposing article 245 only in Islamabad at this juncture when PTI’s has planned Azadi March.

Secretary Law Barrister Zafarullah Khan also supported the government’s decision, saying that article 245 was part of constitution and civil government could call army in specific circumstances.

Nevertheless, the PPP lawmakers have submitted an adjournment motion in the National Assembly (NA) to debate the decision of imposing article 245 on the floor of the house. The opposition party’s lawmakers are wishing to discuss this decision on the first day of 19 days long National Assembly (NA) session, starting from August 4.

The PPP lawmakers, under rule 110 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the National Assembly, 2007, requested that the proceedings of the house be adjourned to discuss the government’s decision to impose article 245 in the capital territory of Islamabad as it reflects the failure of the civil administration, involves the total suspension of the jurisdiction of the high courts and setting up of military courts.

“This is a serious issue with grave consequences and requires immediate discussion on the floor of the house,” said MNAs Dr Nafisa Shah, Shazia Atta Marri, Syed Naveed Qamar, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Beelam Hasnain in their adjournment motion submitted in NA Secretariat.