ISLAMABAD, May 22: An Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) of Islamabad on Wednesday rejected the post-arrest bail application of former president Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf in judges’ detention case.
This has put at rest all the rumours about the departure of former president General (retired) Pervez Musharraf from the country before the formation of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government.
ATC Judge Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi observed that since former president was facing charges of terrorism therefore, he was not entitled to bail at this stage when the proceedings in the case were yet to be commenced.
The court now begins hearing in the case from June 1.
Interestingly, the announcement to withdraw the case by lone complainant Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam Ghumman did not give any relief to the former military ruler.
Advocate Ghumman did not appear before the court to formally withdraw his petition that sought legal action against Musharraf for confining 60 judges of the superior courts for more than five months after imposition of emergency on November 3, 2007.
He told Dawn that he had announced not to pursue his case in the ‘national interest’. “It is up to the State and the court whether they wanted to keep this case alive,” he added.
The Secretariat Police had registered the case on August 11, 2009 on the complaint of advocate Ghumman and initially booked former president under section 344 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The offence under this section was bailable with three years imprisonment.
However, IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on April 18, rejecting the pre-arrest bail petition of Gen Musharraf, directed the police to insert terrorism related sections in the FIR as according to the judge restraining the judges from administering justice was an act of terrorism.
Opposing the post-arrest bail plea of Gen Musharraf before the ATC Judge Zaidi, the police prosecutor Amir Nadeem Tabish on Wednesday informed the court that the police had booked the former military ruler under section 6 d-i-m and Subsection 2 of the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) of 1997.
According to him, the maximum punishment under the sections of ATA was life imprisonment and the accused Musharraf facing similar offence was not entitled to bail.
He said that former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani soon after his oath taking in March 2008 made a speech in the Parliament House in which he ordered the release of 60 judges of the superior courts. He also produced the compact disc (CD) of the Gillani’s speech to the court.
If the judges were not under any confinement then why the former premier issued the order for their release and subsequently all the judges were set free, he added.
Musharraf’s counsel, Ilyas Siddiqui on the other hand contended before the court that there was no evidence on record according to which his client could be held responsible for detaining the judges.
“Former president under the article 48 of the constitution acted on the advice of then cabinet and he never passed any order for confining the judges”, he claimed.
“If there was any written order for keeping the judges under house arrest it may be brought before the court,” he added.
He said that the former military ruler left the presidency in 2008 after receiving ‘guard of honor’ and later went abroad in a graceful manner and nobody at that time raised any complaint against him.
The previous government took oath by Gen Musharraf and nobody tried to impeach the former president for his alleged wrongdoing, he pointed out.
Similarly, the counsel said, the Supreme Court in its judgment of July 31 declared the imposition of November 2007 as unconstitutional but not a single judge mentioned in the order that they were ever detained by Gen Musharraf during the emergency.
He said that the prosecution did not have an iota of evidence against Gen Musharraf and this was the reason that the police had failed to submit complete challan in the court despite arresting Gen Musharraf since April 18.
According to him, the police under the law were bound to submit the challan within 14 days after the arrest of any accused.
Sources told Dawn that the prosecution had raised a number of objections on the incomplete challan of the judges detention case because it lacked tangible evidence against the former military ruler.
On the basis of existing challan, Musharraf would easily be exonerated because it did not include the important evidence such as statement of judges or their family members who remained under house arrest during the imposition of emergency and the statements of the ministers in the Musharraf’s cabinet.
According to the sources during the investigation, Gen Musharraf claimed that the emergency on November 3, 2007 was imposed on the advice of then federal cabinet and quarters concerned.