ISLAMABAD, May 27: A division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday admitted the post-arrest bail application of former president General (retired) Pervez Musharraf in judges detention case for regular hearing.

IHC division bench comprising Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui summoned the record in the case and also issued notices to the respondents to appear before the court on June 4.

The respondents in the case are state and the complainant, advocate Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam Ghumman.

The application was filed against the rejection of Musharraf’s post-arrest bail petition by the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) of Islamabad.

The ATC Judge Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi on May 22 rejected the petition observing that the former president was facing terrorism charges and could influence the investigation if released on bail.

Ilyas Siddiqui, counsel for Gen Musharraf, said his client had been the supreme commander of the armed forces and was not a terrorist.

He claimed that the police had registered the FIR on the complaint of a lawyer Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam Ghumman who had announced to withdraw from the case in ‘public interest’.

There is no evidence against former president Musharraf on the basis of which he could be convicted in the case, he added.

According to the appeal, the offence under which former president was booked under Section 344 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) was a bailable offence but the section of Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) were incorporated in the challan on the directions of the court.

It contended that the custody of Gen Musharraf was no more required for further investigation and requested the court to release him on bail.

Afshan Adil, another counsel for Gen Musharraf, after hearing the case told Dawn that Gen Musharraf was innocent and police had failed to find any evidence against him.

“Because of lack of evidence the prosecution could not prepare the challan in the case and it had not been submitted in the trial court despite repeated directions by the ATC judge,” she added.

The sources in the legal branch of Islamabad police said that the state counsels after examining the police report prepared under section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code (commonly known as challan) had raised several objections on the “weak challan” and had returned it to the officer investigating the case.

Sources said that the state counsels or the special prosecutors had recommended to the investigating officer to include the statements of relevant witnesses including the 60 judges and other officials of the ministry of interior and Islamabad police as well as ministers of then federal cabinet of Gen Musharraf to prepare a strong case against former president.

According to them, the challan neither included the statements of 60 judges allegedly detained on November 3, 2007 nor had the statements of the cabinet members of Gen Musharraf on whose advice the emergency was imposed.

The sources claimed that “unless the judges who were alleged victims of November 3 emergency and were detained in their houses for over five months would not testify against Gen Musharraf, the prosecution could not prove its case against the former military ruler.”

The sources said that being witness, the superior court judges who were allegedly confined in their residences in November 2007 had to appear before the investigation team and then in the trial court as well to record their testimony and “they were also subject to the cross examination by the Musharraf’s lawyer.”

Citing a murder case of 1993 in the Islamabad sessions court, they pointed out that an additional sessions judge Abdul Hameed Khattak who was a witness in a murder case had been summoned by the judge Mian Khaliq of “speedy trial court” of Rawalpindi and was also cross examined by the defence counsels accordingly.

The judges of the superior courts could be exempted from personal appearance in the cases in which they register the complaint with the police in their official capacity but in judges detention case they are not complainant but are the witnesses, the sources added.

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