SC refuses to hear Musharraf's plea against treason verdict, tells him to surrender first

January 17, 2020

Email

Former president's counsel expected to file an appeal against the court's decision to return the petition. — AFP/File
Former president's counsel expected to file an appeal against the court's decision to return the petition. — AFP/File

The Supreme Court office has refused to entertain an appeal, moved on behalf of former president retired General Pervez Musharraf against his conviction in the high treason case.

An informed source told Dawn on Friday that the court office returned the appeal on the grounds that unless the petitioner surrenders himself, his plea cannot be entertained.

Order 23, Rule 8 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, empowers the apex court not to accept any petition unless the convict surrenders himself to the authorities.

The counsel representing Musharraf is expected to file an appeal soon against the registrar's decision to return the petition.

On Thursday, Musharraf had moved the SC, seeking to overturn the special court’s Dec 17, 2019, verdict, convicting him in the high treason case.

Moved by Barrister Salman Safdar, the petition had pleaded that the verdict should be set aside since the trial was conducted and completed in sheer violation of the Constitution as well as the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1898. The appeal also sought the right of audience before the SC in his physical absence as well as the suspension of the judgment in the interest of justice and fair play.

In a nutshell, the petition had pleaded that the case of the appellant was he was being tried for a constitutional crime in an entirely unconstitutional manner.

It stated that Musharraf was a highly decorated former four-star general of the Pakistan Army and had a remarkably distinguished career as a servant of this country.

He had served as an officer of the army for nearly 43 years and through honesty and hard work reached the highest echelons of service and served as the 13th chief of the army staff from October 1998 to November 2007. He was also the 10th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee from 1998 to 2001. He also served as the 10th president of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008, the petition said.

The petition contended that Musharraf wished to draw attention to the fact that his absence was not deliberate as he had multiple ailments which were life threatening, rendering him incapable of appearing before the Supreme Court.

“The appellant did not escape from custody and his is not a case of ‘jail break’,” the petition said, adding that the special court, while fully recognising and acknowledging his ailments in 2013 and 2014, exempted him from personal appearance so much so that all eight prosecution witnesses were examined in his absence.

“On no occasion did the appellant or his legal team delay the matter,” the petition contended, adding that till such time when the appellant was present in the country, his legal team expeditiously followed up the case and examined all prosecution witnesses.

But after Musharraf left the country, he or his legal team could not proceed with the case and while abroad, he fell seriously ill and was unfit to travel and return to Pakistan and stand trial, the petition argued.

“Thus the observation in the Dec 17 judgement about delay is aimed at shifting the blame from the special court to the legal team only to weakly justify trial in absentia,” it said.