Islamabad: Former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Retired Jawwad S Khawaja has submitted a constitutional petition challenging the inclusion of Supreme Court Justice Sardar Tariq Masood in the bench set to hear intra-court appeals against the Supreme Court's (SC) verdict on military trials for civilians.
The hearing is scheduled to commence on December 13.
A six-member bench, presided over by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, will address the petitions filed by the federal government, defense ministry, and the governments of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Balochistan.
The petitions seek the suspension of the Oct 23 short order while the intra-court appeals are pending.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, through his legal representative, lodged the constitutional petition, questioning Justice Masood's inclusion in the six-member bench overseeing the intra-court appeals against the SC's decision on military trials for civilians.
It's noteworthy that Justice Khawaja had previously approached the SC against the military trial of civilians, urging the court to declare it unconstitutional.
The petition highlights the circumstances surrounding the reconstitution of the nine-member Bench and Justice Masood's decision-making process. Justice Masood had previously issued a document expressing grievances against the then Chief Justice of Pakistan regarding the formation of the nine-member Bench.
The petition argues that Justice Masood's findings, which imply that the subject petitions are "unusual," demonstrate a predisposition that compromises impartial adjudication. Justice Khawaja contends that, given Justice Masood's expressed views and findings, he should recuse himself from hearing the appeal in the interest of justice.
The former CJP calls for preventing the Justice Sardar Tariq Masood-led bench from issuing any orders in the related petitions and advocates referring the matter back to the committee established under the Supreme Court (SC) Practice and Procedure Act 2023 for the reconstitution of the bench handling the intra-court appeals.
On October 23, the Supreme Court delivered a 4-1 verdict in response to pleas against civilian trials in military courts. The petitions, filed by PTI chairman Imran Khan and others, challenged the military trial of civilians involved in the May 9 riots linked to Imran Khan's arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
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