ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will resume on Monday hearing petitions seeking initiation of a high treason case against former president retired General Pervez Musharraf. This time a three-judge bench would take up the case instead of the two-member bench that heard it previously.
On Saturday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry rejected a request seeking formation of a full court bench minus the chief justice and constituted the three-member bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan to hear the case.
In addition to oral requests, an application had been moved on Friday by Ibrahim Satti, the counsel for Gen Musharraf, for constitution of a full court bench.
Earlier, Ahmed Raza Qasuri, a member of the panel of lawyers representing Gen Musharraf, had also filed a similar application but the two-judge bench had asked Mr Satti to file the application.
The Supreme Court is seized with petitions seeking an order for the federal government to initiate proceedings against Gen Musharraf under article 6 of the constitution read with the High Treason (Punishment) Act-1973 for having committed high treason by proclaiming state of emergency in the country on Nov 3, 2007.
After considering the application of Mr Satti, the chief justice held that usually under Order XI of the Supreme Court Rules-1980 petitions for leave to appeal were heard by a bench of two judges but the chief justice had the authority to constitute a bench consisting not less than three judges.
For the reason that two kinds of jurisdictions of the court had been invoked, the chief justice observed in his order that it was in the interest of justice that a three-judge bench be constituted for disposal of cases.
On Wednesday, the federal government had told the court that the caretaker cabinet was engaged in deliberations on its mandate whether to proceed with prosecuting Gen Musharraf on high treason or to focus on elections in terms of its priorities.
The government had stated through Attorney General Irfan Qadir that it was also considering whether it would be proper to initiate treason proceedings after elections because the interior ministry was presently preoccupied with providing security to thousands of election candidates all over the country.