SBC petitions SC against army, secrets amendments.

ISLAMABAD -- The Sindh Bar Council (SBC) has moved the Supreme Court against the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2023 and the Official Secrets (Amendment) Act, 2023. The bar council has also challenged the trial of May 9 rioters in military courts.

President Dr Arif Alvi sparked controversy on August 20 by claiming that he had not signed the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2023, pieces of legislations greenlighted by the outgoing National Assembly in the final days of its term.

In a social media post, the president had vehemently denied giving his assent to the two bills.

He had accused his staff of not only deceiving him but also undermining his authority, effectively concealing the fact that the bills had not been returned to parliament within the stipulated 10-day time frame mandated by Article 75 of the Constitution.

The SBC, in its petition, contended that the purported Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2023 and the purported Official Secrets (Amendment) Act, 2023 lack presidential assent under Article 75 (1). '[They] are a nullity, and may not be accorded the status of law under Article 75 (3) of the Constitution,' it said.

It called upon the court to declare that the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2023 and the Official Secrets (Amendment) Act, 2023 are 'ultra vires' (beyond the powers) of the Constitution.

'They purport to further extend the reach of military laws and military tribunals over civilians (including retired military personnel) and to this extent are of no legal effect.'

The petition, available to The Express Tribune, asked the top court to strike down Sections 2(d), 59 (4) and 94 of the Pakistan Army Act 1952 and Section 2 (dd), 71 (3) and 123 of the Pakistan Air Force Act 1953 and Section 2...

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