IHC rejects plea to drop terrorism charges against Musharraf

Updated October 10, 2019

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The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition that sought deletion of terrorism charges against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and transfer of the judges’ detention case from the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) to the sessions court. — AP/File
The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition that sought deletion of terrorism charges against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and transfer of the judges’ detention case from the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) to the sessions court. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition that sought deletion of terrorism charges against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and transfer of the judges’ detention case from the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) to the sessions court.

An IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had resumed the hearing of the petition filed by Gen Musharraf through his lawyer Akhtar Shah.

The bench dismissed the petition because of repeated absence of Mr Shah during the hearing of the case.

Ex-military ruler has been declared proclaimed offender in the judges’ detention case

The former military ruler has been seeking deletion of terrorism charges and subsequent transfer of his case from the ATC to the sessions court on the ground that initially the first information report (FIR) was registered under the Pakistan Penal Code against him in connection with the detention of 60 judges of the superior judiciary after the imposition of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.

However, in 2013, a single-member bench of the IHC had ordered the police to invoke the anti-terror law against the military dictator since detaining judges is an act of terrorism.

The ATC has already declared Gen Musharraf a proclaimed offender in the judges’ detention case as he has been abroad since March 2016.

The prosecution has laid entire evidence against the accused in this case. However, the trial is standstill as the former military leader is absconding in the case.

Gen Musharraf was indicted under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and Section 344 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

On Aug 11, 2009, the Secretariat police had registered the judges’ detention case against Gen Musharraf on the complaint of advocate Mohammad Aslam Ghumman.

The complainant said that the former president, soon after the imposition of emergency in 2007, had kept 60 judges of the superior courts under detention for over five months at their residences.

Interestingly, despite the prosecution’s repeated requests none of the detained judges or their family members testified before the ATC. Moreover, the prosecution did not mention in the FIR names of the judges detained.

Taking benefit of legal loopholes, Gen Musharraf’s counsel Akhtar Shah challenged the terrorism charges. As per the petition, Section 7 of the ATA, 1997, was inserted in the case on the orders of the IHC, but the charges were not proved during the investigation. The petition added that no evidence was produced in connection with Section 7 of the ATA by the investigators and prosecution.

While referring to an order of the IHC, it said, a division bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan had held that lawyers’ allegations could not be considered as evidence.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2019