PESHAWAR, April 30: The Peshawar High Court banned for life former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf from contesting election for parliament and provincial assemblies and termed him an opportunist who had no respect for the law and constitution.
A four-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan ruled that the former military ruler had twice trampled the constitution under his feet, imposed emergency on Nov 3, 2007 and placed the Chief Justice of Pakistan and about 50 judges under house arrest along with their families.
The court dismissed five petitions filed by Gen Musharraf against the order of an election tribunal which had disqualified him from contesting the election from NA-32 Chitral after setting aside the decision by a returning officer who had accepted his nomination papers.
“We are of the considered view that a person who has got not a little respect for whole of the constitution how he will pass through narrow and small compass of articles 62 and 63,” the bench observed. The court order said he (Gen Musharraf) would be disqualified for good from getting elected to parliament, provincial assemblies or any other post.
The order said that much needed to be added to article 6 (2) of the constitution dealing with treason and ambiguous phrases and words had to be clarified and even parliament should be included in it, besides executive authorities, so that whenever parliament endorsed actions of a dictator it should cease to exist and the same principle should be applied with much vigour to others who obeyed the order of a dictator.
It ruled that if parliament was not doing its duty of amending article 6 (2) the interpretation placed by this court should prevail and apply to every dictator, parliament, executive and judiciary if they trampled the constitution in future. “All those who obey the order of a dictator should be guilty of the same offence liable to be tried, besides losing office,” the order said.
Advocate Ahmad Raza Kasuri, representing Gen Musharraf, argued that while accepting the five appeals against his client’s candidature the whole emphasis of the election tribunal was on the famous Jul 31, 2009, verdict of the Supreme Court in the Sindh High Court Bar Association case.
He said all 14 judges on the SC bench who issued the judgment had once taken oath under the Provisional Constitution Order and if Gen Musharraf was considered a “usurper” those judges were also collaborators or abettors.
The counsel contended that in its judgment the apex court had gone beyond the prayer of the petitioner and made certain observations which were not mandatory in nature. He said that under the constitution only the executive authority was empowered to file a treason case against a person under article 6 of the constitution and the judiciary had no authority to issue any such order.
The imposition of emergency in 1999 had been endorsed by the Supreme Court in the Zafar Ali Shah case, he added. The PHC order said the most crucial step taken by Gen Musharraf, which could neither be endorsed by any provision of the constitution nor by any canon of domestic or international law, was on Nov 3, 2007, and that too at a time when he was party to a case in which retired Justice Wajihuddin had challenged his qualification for contesting presidential elections while in military uniform.
It said that like previous dictators Gen Musharraf wanted a favourable decision but when he apprehended that the decision would be made purely on merit and in accordance with the constitution he had axed the superior judiciary up to the roots level.
Referring to house arrest of the judges, the court said this was a single instance which could be hardly quoted in history books to be written later as no dictator in the past in any corner of the world had committed such a detestable act against the sacred institution of judiciary.
“The plot he (Gen Musharraf) arranged and executed and manoeuvring he made for getting presidentship after destroying the judiciary clearly showed that he was a man of opportunism, had no respect for law much less the constitution, thus he had no face to show that he was eligible to contest the election from any constituency much less the one for which he filed nomination papers,” the order said.
AP adds: Saad Shibli, one of Gen Musharraf’s lawyers, said he would challenge the PHC ruling in the Supreme Court. He said the former military ruler should not be singled out for punishment for his actions while in power since others were involved.
“About 500 officials at different levels and institutions were part of Gen Musharraf’s actions, and if those actions come under scrutiny, all those people should be involved in this matter,” Mr Shibli said.