'Justice is never the mob': Legal fraternity weighs in on shocking paragraph in Musharraf treason verdict

"Some findings in Justice Seth’s judgment are legally flawed and must be reviewed for legitimacy of the conviction."
Published December 19, 2019

Soon after the detailed verdict against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf in the high treason case came to the fore on Thursday, members of the legal fraternity began weighing in on the severity of paragraph 66 which calls for the former president's body to be "dragged to D-Chowk" in Islamabad and "hanged for three days".

The judgment has been authored by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth who has directed public hanging. Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court and Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court have disagreed with such a method of execution prescribed by their fellow judge.

'Condemnable and unlawful'

Legal adviser for the International Commission of Jurists Reema Omer provided a breakdown of each of the three judges' contribution to the judgment in a series of tweets.

She termed Justice Seth's judgment as "condemnable and unlawful" and found Justice Karim's opinion "strong" overall. She called for a review of the judgment and said there were multiple grounds for appeal available.

'Justice is never the mob'

Barrister Asad Rahim Khan reminded everyone that the country had fought against the menace that had derived pleasure from exactly this kind of "corpse-dragging".

"No sentence in law provides for a three-day lynching and no crime in this country attracts it. Justice is never the mob," he wrote.

'Historic judgment robbed of legal sanctity'

Lawyer Salahuddin Ahmed regretted that an otherwise "well-reasoned and historic judgment' had been robbed of its moral and legal sanctity by "18 ill-considered words".

"Yes, the 'hanging corpse' bit may not be part of the majority’s effective order but why why can’t judges resist the urge to grandstand?" he wondered.

'Inappropriate and unusual'

International lawyer Taimur Malik said paragraph 66 is "inappropriate and unusual" and wondered what the special court's objectives were in suggesting such a punishment.

'What is this?'

Lawyer and rights activist Nighat Dad also called into question the contentious paragraph. "Detailed judgment of the special court is out but what exactly is this?" she said.

'Unnecessary theatrics'

Lawyer Zafar Zulqarnain Sahi, condemning the judgment, said that what already does "hang by the neck" is the "prudence, sensibility, impartiality and fairness of this entire judgment".

Furthermore, he said that calls for such a death penalty "are absolutely unnecessary theatrics".

"This shall go down in history as the worst para in a judgment. Notwithstanding the contempt of court may I say this is plain stupid," he added.


Lawyer Hassan A. Niazi said that the paragraph in question is "disgusting" and expressed relief that a dissenting view by Justice Shahid Karim had been presented.

"What sort of insanity was going through the mind of Justice Seth? You are supposed to uphold the rule of law, not the rule of the lynch mob," he said.

'Disservice to law'

Lawyer Waqqas Mir, terming the judgment "terrible and unnecessary", said that it was a "disservice to the judges office and the law itself".

"This deserves no place in any legal system. Also, if you’re into betting, you can make a good bet because of this, the case will be remanded," he wrote.