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November 27, 2019

High-treason case: IHC summons Special Court record, LHC admits plea

Top Story

November 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday directed submission of complete record of Special Court in the high-treason case against former president General (R) Pervez Musharraf, while the Lahore High Court (LHC) admitted Musharraf’s plea for regular hearing.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprising Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, took up the hearing of the interior ministry’s plea, requesting the court to stop the Special Court from announcing its verdict in the case.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Sajid Ilyas Bhatti appeared before the court. Justice Minallah remarked that in petition of interior ministry only paragraph number 16 was important.

Ilyas Bhatti informed the bench about the details of constitution of the prosecution team in 2013. Justice Minallah asked the additional attorney general, “Do you know the Supreme Court orders?”

To this, the AAG replied that he had received the case file and orders to appear before the court just 30 minutes before. To this, the bench remarked that he was representing the federal government and should be aware of facts about the case.

“How can you proceed without complete information?” asked Justice Minallah. The bench asked the AAG to call in someone who knew facts about the case. “A representative from the Ministry of Law and Justice, who knows the case,” he added.

Pervez Musharraf’s lawyer tried to argue but the bench stopped him and remarked that the court will first hear the petition of the interior ministry. “Pervez Musharraf has been declared a proclaimed offender as per the law,” the justice said.

Later the IHC summoned secretary law and justice to appear before the court in person with complete record on Wednesday (today) and adjourned the hearing.

The Special Court had reserved its verdict in the high-treason casa against Pervez Musharraf, fixed to be announced on November 28.

The case was filed against Pervez Musharraf by the PML-N government for imposing extra-constitutional emergency in November 2007.

In March 2014, Pervez Musharraf was indicted in the case after he appeared before the court and rejected all charges. In March 2016 Musharraf left for Dubai for his medical treatment after his name was removed from the ECL on the Supreme Court orders.

After his continuous inability in the case against him, the Special Court declared Musharraf a proclaimed offender and ordered seizure of his property.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court (LHC) Tuesday admitted for regular hearing a plea filed by former president General Pervez Musharraf, seeking the court’s intervention in stopping the Special Court from announcing its reserved verdict in the high-treason case.

Justice Syed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi also sought a summary from the federal law ministry about formation of the trial court after overruling a registrar office’s objection to the maintainability of the petition before admitting it for regular hearing.

Earlier, the registrar office had declared the petition by Musharraf not maintainable before the LHC on the grounds of territorial jurisdiction as he was a resident of Islamabad.

The judge sought assistance from the attorney general for Pakistan on the matter besides directing the federal law ministry to present the summary of formation of the special court that reserved its verdict in the high treason case on Nov 19 for likely pronouncement on November 28.

The judge referred to media reports and asked Musharraf’s counsel Advocate Khawaja Tariq Rahim as if there was an identical petition filed with the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The counsel replied that it was the ministry for interior that moved the IHC.

Justice Naqvi asked the counsel as to why the petitioner did not become party to a review petition by a bar, pending before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. There was also a direction to the special court by the apex court in that review petition, added the judge.

However, the counsel insisted that the LHC should hear the matter as the decision of the Special Court will affect Musharraf whenever he returns to the country.

He argued that the trial court had not been constituted lawfully as the mandatory approval from the federal cabinet had not been sought for it.

He urged the court to summon the summary from the law ministry regarding the constitution of the trial court. To a court query, the counsel said Musharraf had left the country after permission by the trial court.

The petition stated that Musharraf was unable to return to Pakistan due to his medical condition while the special court declared him proclaimed offender on June 19, 2016 and also seized his family property. The counsel stated that the trial did not continue for two years till September 10, 2018 when the special court reconvened the proceedings on a daily basis in the absence of the accused (Musharraf).

The petition asked the high court to grant an injunctive relief to Musharraf and suspend the special court’s decision besides staying the trial in absentia until his physical appearance before it. The petition said Musharraf be allowed to lead evidence in his defence and provide answers to questions already prepared for him by the special court. It sought a direction for the special court to decide a pending application under Section 265-K of Code of Criminal Procedure for his acquittal at the earliest. The former president appealed to the court that an independent medical board be formed to determine his health. The court adjourned the hearing for November 28.