Three-member bench finalised for Musharraf treason case

Updated November 19, 2013

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The three-judge special court will try former President Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf for suspending the constitution while proclaiming the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.—File Photo
The three-judge special court will try former President Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf for suspending the constitution while proclaiming the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The names of three judges including a female judge have been approved by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the special court that will conduct trial of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, DawnNews reported.

The names of the judges, along with their profile, were sent to Law Secretary Barrister Zafarullah Khan by the SC registrar with a suggestion to select any three of them as members of the special court.

About the head of the special court, the government was suggested to select the most senior one in the list.

The apex court sent the names of Justice Syeda Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court, Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi of the Islamabad High Court, Justice Mohammad Yawar Ali of the Lahore High Court, Justice Yahya Afridi of the Peshawar High Court and Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the names of Justice Faisal Arab (SHC), Justice Tahira Safdar (BHC) and Justice Yawar Ali (LHC). According to the notification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Justice Faisal Arab will preside over the special court as he is the most senior of the three judges

The special court will hear the case in Islamabad.

Although all the selected judges command respect for their uprightness, honesty and for having distinguished career, legal observers fear that the name of the presiding judge may get entangled in a controversy after being objected to by Gen Musharraf’s side because he had refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) issued by the former military ruler. He was later restored, along with the Chief Justice of Pakistan, on March 16, 2009.

Justice Tahira Safdar is the daughter of a lawyer who had died. Her three brothers are practising lawyers. She started her career in 1983-84 and served as civil judge in Quetta. She later became district judge, a member of the Service Tribunal and was then elevated to the BHC as judge. Justice Yawar Ali is a nephew of former Supreme Court judge Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday.

On Monday, the law secretary had sent a one-page letter to the SC registrar through a special messenger with a request to place the matter before Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for nominating three high court judges for the special court to try Gen Musharraf under treason charges for suspending the constitution while proclaiming a state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.

“The law provides that the special court shall comprise three serving judges of the high courts. Since there are five high courts and it will be difficult to nominate three judges from these five high courts for the special court, it will be appropriate that the apex court may nominate any three judges from the high courts for the special court,” the letter said.

Moving swiftly, the chief justice had ordered the SC office to circulate copies of the letter among the chief justices of the five high courts to send the names of judges on Tuesday.

Under Section 4 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Courts) Act 1976, the federal government constitutes the special court to try a person under Article 6 of the Constitution dealing with high treason. The special court enjoys exclusive jurisdiction and no other court could interfere in its trial.

“We sent the request to the chief justice for suggesting the judges’ names so that no one could point fingers at the government,” a government official told Dawn. Legal observers are of the opinion that the court’s suggestion to the government to choose the names of the judges on its own may be because the chief justice wants to stay away from any controversy. The chief justice, they said, was a direct victim of the actions taken by Gen Musharraf and one of the judges who were detained at their homes after the Nov 3, 2007, emergency.