Sunday February 25, 2024

Supreme Court to hear Musharraf's appeal against death sentence in high treason case

Former president was awarded death sentence by special court in 2019

November 10, 2023
Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. — AFP/File
Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court is set to hear former president Pervez Musharraf's appeal against the death sentence awarded to him by a special court in 2019 in a "high treason case".

A four-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan, and Justice Athar Minallah will hear Musharraf's appeals.

On December 17, 2019, a special court awarded a death sentence to the former ruler under Article 6 of the Constitution after a case of high treason was filed against him during Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) tenure for his "unconstitutional" decision to impose an emergency in November 2007.

Musharraf had been residing in the UAE after leaving Pakistan for medical treatment — with the PML-N government's approval — in March 2016. He passed away in Dubai in February 2023 and was laid to rest in Karachi's Malir Cantonment.

During today's hearing, CJP Isa lamented why the cases from 2019 were still not fixed for hearing until now and questioned Salman Safdar, Musharraf's lawyer, as to why his petition was not allotted any number for hearing.

At this, the lawyer responded that the registrar's office had objected that no appeal can be filed by a convicted individual without surrendering before the court first.

The apex court — in an in-chamber hearing — had then directed the appeal to be fixed for hearing in an open court.

"When was the appeal fixed to be heard after the in-chamber hearing?" the chief justice asked.

To this, Safdar apprised the top judge that, after that, the appeal has been fixed for hearing today for the first time.

"It is a basic right [of a convicted individual] that [his] appeal be heard before the death sentence is carried out," the lawyer added.

He also highlighted the appeal against Musharraf's death sentence was filed after an amendment in relevant criminal law

Safdar further stressed that the special court's verdict was not "unanimous" and his client was "sentenced in absentia".

The court, approving the former president's appeal against his death sentence, issued notices to relevant parties in the case and adjourned the hearing till November 21.