Country Listing

Pakistan Table of Contents


Military Justice

The military justice system rests on three similar service laws: the Pakistan Army Act (1952), the Pakistan Air Force Act (1953), and the Pakistan Navy Ordinance (1961). The acts are administered by the individual services under the central supervision of the Ministry of Defence.

The army has a four-tier system; the air force and navy, three-tier systems. The top two levels of all three systems are the general courts-martial and district courts-martial; the third level comprises the field general courts-martial in the army and air force and the equivalent summary general courts-martial in the navy. The army also has a further level, the summary courtsmartial .

The differences in court levels reflect whether their competence extends to officers or enlisted men only and the severity of the punishment that may be imposed. Sentences of military courts must be approved by the convening authority, that is, the commanding general of the organization concerned. Every decision of a court-martial higher than summary court-martial level must be concurred in by a majority of the members of the court; where a vote is split evenly, the law provides that the "decision shall be in favor of the accused." There is a right of appeal within the military court system, but no civilian court has the right to question the judgment of a military court. In cases where a military person is alleged to have committed a crime against a civilian, the central government determines whether military or civilian courts have jurisdiction. Double jeopardy is prohibited. Former servicemen in civilian life who are accused of felonies committed while on active duty are liable for prosecution under the jurisdiction of military courts. These courts are empowered to mete out a wide range of punishments-- including death. All sentences of imprisonment are served in military prisons or detention barracks.

In contrast to the civilian court system, the introduction of Islamic law (sharia--see Glossary) has had little effect on the military justice system. The Federal Shariat Court has, however, ordered the military to make more liberal provisions to appeal, to confront witnesses, and to show just cause (see Judiciary , ch. 4). It was not clear in early 1994 what practical effect these directives have had.

Data as of April 1994