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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court was informed on Tuesday that the government did not reconstitute the special court, which was seized with the high treason case against former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, following the retirement of the special court’s president last month.

Under the law, the federal government with the consent of the Chief Justice of Pakistan notifies members and president of a special court.

As former chief justice of the Lahore High Court Yawar Ali, who was the president of the special court, had retired on Oct 22 after attaining the age of superannuation, Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Tahira Safdar and Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court are currently part of the three-judge special court.

Govt yet to reconstitute special court weeks after retirement of its president, IHC told

During the hearing of a petition filed by the former military ruler against the special court’s order of recording his testimony through a commission, his counsel Barrister Salman Safdar informed a division bench of the IHC that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government did not notify the reconstitution of the special court.

The bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, however, rejected the plea to stop the proceedings of the high treason case against Gen Musharraf.

The court asked the counsel to explain how an ‘absconder’ could be represented without his surrender before the trial court.

Barrister Safdar sought time from the court to respond to the query. Subsequently, the matter has been adjourned.

During the course of arguments, Barrister Safdar said Gen Musharraf was ready to appear before the trial court to testify under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which is the last stage of the criminal proceedings initiated against him in December 2013 for subversion of the Constitution.

He said the ex-military ruler was unable to appear before the court because of his deteriorated health.

According to the counsel, the medical report of the former military ruler indicates a rare form of cardiac disease causing the freezing of heart muscles and affecting blood pumping. The disease is in its late stages and requires consistent medical intervention.

“Do you want to linger on the trial for an indefinite period?” the bench asked.

The counsel said his client wanted that the proceedings be completed early and he also wanted to testify before the court in person.

Barrister Safdar argued that under the law, once an accused person was declared a proclaimed offender, the court could not initiate any action against him except confiscation and auctioning of his properties.

In this case, the counsel argued, the special court decided to record the statement of an absconder through a commission which was unprecedented in judicial history.

The complaint against retired general Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution was filed on Dec 13, 2013. He was indicted on March 31, 2014 and the prosecution concluded its case six months later.

On March 16, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the Sindh High Court order (dated June 12, 2014) of removing the ex-military ruler’s name from the Exit Control List and subsequently, he left the country for some medical check-up and had not returned since then.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018

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