LAHORE: The registrar office of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday returned a civil miscellaneous application by former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf against his conviction in the high treason case by a special court, citing unavailability of the full bench during winter vacations.
A legal panel comprising Khawaja Ahmad Tariq Rahim and Azhar Siddique had filed the application under Section 151 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) in a pending main writ petition of Mr Musharraf under Article 199 of the Constitution challenging all actions starting from complaint of high treason to establishment of the special trial court and its proceedings.
A three-judge full bench recently constituted by LHC Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan is scheduled to take up the main petition on Jan 9.
The bench comprises Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and Justice Chaudhry Masood Jahangir.
Justice Naqvi, hearing the petition of Mr Musharraf as a single bench, had referred it to a larger bench pointing out important legal questions in the matter.
Registrar’s office says full bench is not available during winter vacations
The special court had announced its verdict on Dec 17 and handed down death penalty to Mr Musharraf with a 2-1 majority.
In the civil miscellaneous application, Mr Musharraf asked the high court to set aside the special court’s verdict for being illegal, without jurisdiction, unconstitutional and in violation of Articles 10-A, 4, 5, 10 and 10-A of the Constitution.
Advocate Siddique told Dawn that the registrar’s office returned the application as the full bench was not available during the winter vacations. He said the application would be filed in the first week of January.
A roster of judges issued by the LHC for the winter vacations from Dec 25 to Jan 8 said during the vacations only the cases of an urgent nature, including pre-arrest/post-arrest bail petitions, habeas corpus petitions and petitions under Section 22A/22B of CrPC will be entertained and heard.
The 85-page civil miscellaneous application stated that Mr Musharraf was not given a chance to present his arguments.
It said: “The hastily announced judgment is emanating from a prosecution case which suffers, for all intents and purposes from an admitted, noticeable and unexplained delay of over five years from the date of the alleged offence and initiation of proceeding.”
It also specifically assailed paragraph 66 of the special court’s verdict wherein its head Justice Waqar Seth in his minority view said: “We direct the law enforcement agencies to strive their level best to apprehend the fugitive/convict and to ensure that the punishment is inflicted as per law and if found dead, his corpse be dragged to the D-Chowk, Islamabad, Pakistan, and be hanged for three days.” The application argued that the president of the special court had crossed all religious, moral, civil and constitutional limits, while ruthlessly, irreligiously, unlawfully, unrealistically awarding a sentence against the dignity of a person.
It said: “The wordings in paragraph 66 of the impugned judgement, although holding minority view, are still an exercise of languages which directly violates Article 2 of the code of conduct to be observed by the judges.”
“The Special Court did not take into consideration that no actions detrimental to national interest were ever taken by General (retired) Pervez Musharraf. No offence of High Treason is made out from the evidence which had been presented before the Special Court. Even after the introduction of 18th Amendment Article 6 of the Constitution passed on April 20, 2010, it is still clear that General (retired) Pervez Musharraf did not commit any offence,” contended the application.
It highlighted that special court’s member Justice Nazar Akbar in his dissenting note mentioned that the actions taken by Mr Musharraf on Nov 3, 2007 could be termed illegal and unconstitutional but they could not be tantamount to treason.
Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2019