Jurisdiction of Military Courts over Civilian Terrorists in Pakistan: A Miscarriage of Justice


  • Muhammad Hassan International Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Johan Shamsuddin bin Sabaruddin Universiti Malaya




The Constitution (Twenty-first Amendment) Act, 2015; Military Courts; Rule of Law; Independence of Judiciary; Fundamental Rights


The jurisdiction of military court was extended over alleged terrorists under the Constitution (Twenty-first Amendment) Act, 2015, in order to permanently wipe out terrorism from Pakistan. The amendment was challenged and petitioners contended that jurisdiction of military courts could not be extended over alleged civilian terrorists because of their peculiar nature. Further, the presiding officer of the military court is a member of the executive, which contradicts the principle of judicial independence, an utmost essential element of safeguarding the due process of law. However, the apex court of Pakistan held that terrorism has a direct nexus with the safety and integrity of Pakistan, therefore, the Parliament was competent to expand the jurisdiction of military courts over civilian terrorists in order to secure the country’s safety and integrity and thus consistent with the recognized criminal justice system. This research critically analyzes the jurisdiction of military courts over civilian terrorists in accordance with the principle of judicial independence. It also identifies the breach of the fundamental rights of alleged civilian terrorists. This study also determines the capability of existing criminal law statutes of ensuring peace whilst maintaining justice for the accused persons. In order to achieve these objectives, this paper adopts a doctrinal research method and carries out an in-depth analysis of the amendments and judgments relating to the issue while also highlighting the constitutionality of the subject matter. Aside from that, juristic literatures and judgments of the superior courts are also analysed. The study concludes that an independent judicial tribunal is absolutely essential in order to ensure that justice is dispensed to the accused. It is further argued that the scope of the military justice system is limited to military personnel, which therefore cannot and should not be expanded over civilian terrorists.


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Author Biographies

Muhammad Hassan, International Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan

Law as a Lecturer

Johan Shamsuddin bin Sabaruddin, Universiti Malaya

Associate Professor




How to Cite

Hassan, M., & Sabaruddin, J. S. bin. (2019). Jurisdiction of Military Courts over Civilian Terrorists in Pakistan: A Miscarriage of Justice. IIUM Law Journal, 27(1), 63–88. https://doi.org/10.31436/iiumlj.v27i1.415