Former prime minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan has filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Pakistan to declare the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2023 and Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill 2023 as null and void. He argues that since both lack the presidential assent, they remain bills and have not become law.

The Army Act, 1952, was passed by both houses of parliament in late July. It proposes up to five years in jail for those who disclose sensitive information related to the security of the country or the military. Similarly, the secrets act, which grants blanket powers to intelligence agencies, was approved by the National Assembly on August 1.

President Arif Alvi was said to have assented to both bills on August 19, allowing them to become acts of parliament. However, the next day, the president publicly claimed that he had not signed the bills and disagreed with them. The law ministry contradicted the president’s claim, stating that the bills were received by the presidency on the specified dates.

Imran Khan’s petition requests the suspension of both laws until the court ruling. It argues that the president’s failure to sign the bills violates several articles of the constitution, including the right to fair trial, laws inconsistent with fundamental rights being void, and freedom of speech.

The petition lists President Dr. Arif Alvi, the National Assembly secretary, the law ministry, and the interior ministry as respondents. The hearing of the petition has not been scheduled yet.

Earlier, similar petitions against the bills were filed by the Sindh Bar Council, former Chief Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, civil society members, and former law minister Aitzaz Ahsan. The SBC also approached the Supreme Court against the bills, claiming that they have not become law due to the lack of presidential assent.

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By hassani

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