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IHC asks Musharraf's counsel why it should entertain a proclaimed offender

November 13, 2018

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Musharraf says he is unable to return to Pakistan due to health issues. — File
Musharraf says he is unable to return to Pakistan due to health issues. — File

The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday heard a petition filed by retired Gen Pervez Musharraf's counsel, who has sought a stay against the formation of a judicial commission that will record the absconding former dictator's statement in a high treason case outstanding against him.

In the last hearing of the high treason case, a special court had ordered the formation of a commission that would go abroad to record Musharraf's statement in accordance with Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — a development Musharraf's counsel had opposed and moved the high court against.

"The order to form a commission to record a statement is illegal [in this case]," Musharraf's counsel argued before a two-member IHC bench today. "A commission can only be formed to record the statement of a foreign witness."

To this, Justice Amir Farooq inquired if there was any restriction on Musharraf preventing him from returning to Pakistan.

"It's barely a two-hour flight from Dubai; [Musharraf should] just book a ticket and come back to Pakistan," he advised.

Musharraf's counsel replied that his client does not face any restrictions, but the only reason he was not returning was his illness.

"A proclaimed accused's petition cannot be heard until he has surrendered to the court," Justice Farooq reminded the counsel. "How is this petition maintainable despite him being a proclaimed accused — present your arguments on this point," he urged.

The case was adjourned until November 19.

High treason case against Musharraf

Musharraf is facing the high treason case for suspending the Constitution on Nov 3, 2007 — an offence for which he was indicted by the special court on March 31, 2014. That same year, the state prosecution laid down all its evidence but the progress in the case still slowed down due to the former military ruler having filed multiple petitions against his trial at the appellate forum.

In March 2016, he left the country for Dubai to "seek medical treatment" and hasn't returned since.

In the case's last hearing on October 15, Musharraf's counsel had told the special court that his client was was unable to record his statement via video link since he is indisposed.

The court had then ordered the formation of the aforementioned judicial commission.