LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday sought assistance from the federal ministry of interior on a legal point whether the imposition of a state of emergency by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Nov 3, 2007 fell within the definition of abrogation of the Constitution, an offence of high treason.
Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi also posed a direct query to Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Ishtiaq A. Khan whether the complaint against the former president could be withdrawn in the light of the ‘legal shortcomings’ pointed out by the counsel for retired general Musharraf.
The judge was hearing a petition by the former dictator challenging formation of a special court holding his trial under charges of high treason and legal flaws committed in the procedure.
During the hearing, Justice Naqvi asked the additional attorney general if declaring a state of emergency in the country and abrogating the Constitution were two separate things. He further asked the law officer whether Article 6 of the Constitution attracted in the Musharraf case.
Law officer asked if complaint against former military ruler can be withdrawn on basis of shortcomings as pointed out by his counsel
“The court would also like to know if the government can withdraw the complaint [in case] legal requirements are not met,” the judge said to the law officer.
AAG Khan sought time from the court to seek instructions from the interior secretary on the queries raised during the hearing.
Earlier, the law officer also submitted the record of the high treason case against Musharraf.
The judge allowed time to the law officer and adjourned hearing till Dec 17.
Advocate Azhar Siddique representing Gen Musharraf argued that the previous government had told the Supreme Court that it would file a complaint against the former dictator and an inquiry would be initiated. However, he said, the complaint was filed on the direction of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif instead of federal cabinet’s recommendation. Also the prosecution team was appointed on the advice of the then prime minister, the counsel pointed out.
He argued that the ex-premier had initiated the case over ‘personal grudge’, as the SC had not ordered the previous government to file the case.
He said that Gen Musharraf had been undergoing medical treatment for multiple diseases in the UAE. The counsel said that the former president had recently sent a recorded video message from his hospital bed stating that he was ready to record his statement in the case.
On Dec 3, a day after being admitted to the hospital, Gen Musharraf in a video message said he was ready to record his statement in the high treason case against him, complaining that he had not been heard and that he was being victimised.
The former military dictator was booked in Dec 2013 for imposing the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007 and suspending the Constitution till the mid of Dec 2007. He was declared a proclaimed offender by a special court in the high treason case.
Just last week the three-member special court had said it would announce verdict in the high treason case on Dec 17 after hearing the arguments of the government’s new prosecution team.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2019