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Being a Distinct, Segregated and Military institution, Pak Army is not mandated with commercial activity: Says LHC

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The Lahore High Court, Lahore has recently released its detailed judgment in case pertaining to the allotment of a huge part of land in Punjab to the institution ofย  Pakistan Army for the purpose of Corporate Agriculture Farming. After setting the factual and legal matrix of the case in detail, the Court has chosen 8 questions at page No. 93 para No. 106 for its determination; that whether the Petitioner has locus standi being not directly affected by the impugned act of the Government ;that what is the meaning of locus standi in public interest litigation and how it ought to be construed: whether liberally or narrowly; and that what is the constitutional and legal mandate of the Care Taker Government, can it take decision/s which are not reversible for the coming elected government. Similarly, the Court alsoย  set a question as to whether the institution of the Army can take on the tsk of commercial activity and that too without the approval of the federal government.

Before answering these questions, the Court has also explained how the Care Taker Government has flagrantly violated law in order to approve the allotment of the land to the Army and how the Army directly approached the Care Taker Government to secure the deal. The Court has mentioned that the previous government in order to utilize the barren land, envisaged a scheme to allot the land to a company or companies for corporate agriculture farming. The then government took it with vigilance and interest and was trying to carry it to its culmination with due care, after fulfilling the legal requirements and formalities, and thereafter, how the current Care Taker Government done this in a a very hasty and negligent manner ignoring the legal requirements. The Court has also analyzed the Pakistan Army as an institution and has held that being a distinct, segregated and limited in nature, this institution cannot be treated as a civil institution and it has to carry on what it has been mandated with by the Constitution and the law. Pak Army as an institution is separated from civilian institution by its nature and legal mandate. The army persons are regulated through aย  peculiar and different law which is exclusively applicable to them. This makes it clear that the Armed Forces cannot be assigned any duty which bears civilian role which allows them to interact with civilian. The Armed Forces are mandated to safeguard the strategic borders of the country of aggressions within or out of Pakistan. The Court has opined that this is the exclusive domain and mandate of the Armed Forces and they cannot transgress this limit. Commercial activity needs expertise and Armed Forces are bereft of any such expertise. Thus, land for corporate agriculture farmingย  cannot be allotted to Armed Forces. The Court has held at the end that the Impugned Notification qua the allotment of land to the Armed Forces is illegal and of no legal effect.

The Court in this judgment has in a very dignified and convincing manner tried to wake up the conscious of the Armed Forces to make them realize their constitutional and legal mandate. This part of the judgment is really worth a read. The writing of this part is so convincing and thought provoking. At the end, the Court has also directed to send a copy of the judgment to the heads of all three branches of the Armed Forces.

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