ISLAMABAD: The directive for the trial of former president Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf at his farmhouse in the judges detention case has been withdrawn due to lack of coordination between the district administration and the registrar office of the Islamabad High Court.
From now on, the former president will be tried at the open courtroom of the district and sessions court of Islamabad.
Because of serious threats to the life of the former army chief and extraordinary security required for his production in the congested building where the anti-terrorism court (ATC) Islamabad is housed, the capital administration had last month recommended his trial at his Chak Shahzad farmhouse which had already been declared as a sub-jail.
On May 4, Meeran Jan Kakar, the IHC registrar, had approved the jail trial of Gen Musharraf on the recommendation of the chief commissioner Islamabad. The IHC administration had also directed the capital administration to adopt security measures, including arranging a bulletproof vehicle for carrying the ATC judge, Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi, from the F-8 district courts to the Chak Shahzad farmhouse and back. The establishment of a courtroom at the farmhouse sub-jail was also ordered.
But even after the approval of the IHC administration, the trial of Gen Musharraf could not be started in the sub-jail as the prosecution did not submit the challan of the case to the court. The court, under the law, can start the trial proceedings against the accused only after submission of the challan.
Sources in the sessions court told Dawn that the ATC judge on the earlier date of hearing of the case on May 28 had informed the IHC administration that no arrangements were made at the sub-jail. The judge informed the IHC administration that neither a courtroom was established in the sub-jail nor any security measure adopted for his safety.
The same day, the IHC administration asked the ATC judge not to try Gen Musharraf at the sub-jail and reversed its earlier order of May 4.
The sources, however, said the Islamabad administration on Saturday sent a letter to the IHC administration informing it that a courtroom had been established in the farmhouse and it had been equipped with necessary facilities and equipment.
The letter stated that a request for provision of a bulletproof vehicle had also been made to the cabinet division but its reply was still awaited.
The IHC registrar office submitted the correspondence to Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi and requested him to pass an appropriate order. However, Justice Kasi did not pass any order till the closing of the office hours on Saturday, an IHC official told Dawn.
ATC Judge Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi on Saturday resumed the hearing of the judges detention case at the district courts but adjourned it without any proceedings till June 6.
Amir Nadeem Tabish, the special prosecutor of the Islamabad police, told the court that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted to investigate the case sustained some objections in the challan and he had advised them to remove the objections.
According to him, the statements of key witnesses, including the judges who were detained in November 2007, were missing from the challan.
He said the JIT had written to the cabinet division and other departments concerned for obtaining the statements of the witnesses and collection of evidence but the reply was awaited.
On his request, the judge allowed submission of the challan on the next date of hearing.
Advocate Ilyas Siddiqui, the counsel for Gen Musharraf, on the other hand, told the court that the prosecution was using delayed tactics to prolong the detention of his client.
He claimed that the prosecution had no evidence against Gen Musharraf in the judges detention case and this was the reason it was reluctant to submit the challan.
“Under the criminal procedure code, the prosecution is bound to submit a complete challan of an accused person two weeks after the expiry of his physical remand,” he contended.