Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Thursday said the armed forces would not be allowed to take “unconstitutional steps” as a six-judge bench indefinitely adjourned the hearing on a set of petitions challenging the trials of civilians in military courts, a private TV channel reported. The six-member bench led by CJP Bandial and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Ayesha A Malik and Justice Yahya Afridi adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period. “Those who build their case on the Constitution of Pakistan and law will be successful,” said CJP Bandial. During the hearing, the CJP observed that the incidents of May 9 were of a serious nature. He said it pained him to hear remarks about the Pakistan Army being equipped to open fire on protestors on May 9. The CJP added that the army is meant to serve the country. The Pakistan Army did the correct thing by not resorting to shooting citizens on May 9, he said. Earlier, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan assured the court that the 102 civilian suspects currently under military custody will be fairly treated during ongoing trials. AGP Awan claimed that his assurance are coming from the military’s top leadership. Concessions are being made for May 9 suspects on the court’s insistence, said the AGP. At one point the AGP also reminded the court that the military is armed. “No efforts are being made to overturn the Constitution of Pakistan…What happened on May 9 is before everyone,” said AGP Awan. “Remember one thing – they are the armed forces. If they are attacked, they have weapons to defend themselves.” The AGP further said that the army is equipped to fire bullets. “It is not possible that if they are attacked, they first approach an SHO to lodge a formal complaint.” “They [the military] could have opened fire [on citizens] on May 9,” said the AGP. This prompted Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, one of the petitioners, to ask the AGP why the military did not open fire then on the day itself. “We do not want that such a situation is created next time that the army resorts to opening fire. This is why we are conducting [military] trials.” At this, Barrister Ahsan observed that the incumbent government’s tenure ends on August 12. “How can they give assurances then?” he asked. At the end of the hearing, the CJP announced the court’s resolve to see justice done and said: “The one whose case will abide by the Constitution will be successful.” He then sought assurance from Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan that the military trials would not proceed. He responded that the military’s top leadership had assured that it would not. “There is no attempt to subvert the Constitution and the law,” Awan added. The CJP responded: “We respect those who cooperate with us. We show respect to even those who do not cooperate.” The hearing of petitions against military trials of civilians was then adjourned indefinitely. At the outset of hearing, petitioner Aitzaz Ahsan requested the court to take notice of the recently-proposed amendments to the Official Secrets Act, 1923. The Official Secrets Act has been amended, and “intelligence agencies have been empowered to raid and arrest anywhere,” pointed out. According to the new law, anyone’s house can be entered without a search warrant, he said, adding that the home is a safe space and its sanctity is being violated by amending the law. He suggested that the court make a virtual full court to hear this case. CJP Bandial inquired whether the amendment had been passed. On being told it was still a bill, he responded: “Let’s see how the other two factions of the Parliament react to it.” “The chief justice cannot take notice at his discretion, he said. At this, Ahsan urged him to take suo moto notice as the senior-most member of the court. “You should consult your other judges,” he requested. At this the CJP thanked him. Following the arrests made in connection with the violent riots that erupted across the country on May 9, the government announced its decision to hold military court trials of those found guilty of damaging and attacking military installments – a move both the government and the army considered a low blow. In light of this decision, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Khawaja, legal expert Aitzaz Ahsan, and five civil society members, including Piler Executive Director Karamat Ali, requested the apex court to declare the military trials “unconstitutional”. In this petition filed through his lawyer, the former CJP pleaded that Section 2(1)(d)(i) and (ii) of the Pakistan Army Act were inconsistent with the fundamental rights granted by the Constitution and should be struck down. Moreover, five members of civil society from different cities – represented by Siddiqi – appealed to the apex court to declare illegal the trial of civilians in the military courts. Similarly, Ahsan’s petition challenged the government’s decision to try civilians in military courts.