Minister regrets his criticism of special court over Musharraf conviction

Published January 14, 2021
Federal law minister Barrister Farogh Naseem told the Peshawar High Court on Wednesday that he held all courts in high esteem and regretted his diatribe against the head of a special court. — DawnNewsTV/File
Federal law minister Barrister Farogh Naseem told the Peshawar High Court on Wednesday that he held all courts in high esteem and regretted his diatribe against the head of a special court. — DawnNewsTV/File

PESHAWAR: Federal law minister Barrister Farogh Naseem told the Peshawar High Court on Wednesday that he held all courts in high esteem and regretted his diatribe against the head of a special court, which sentenced former military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf to death in 2019 for high treason.

A bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan Chamkani and Justice Mohammad Nasir Mehfooz exempted the minister from personal appearance until further orders in two identical petitions seeking his (Farogh’s) prosecution along with current special assistant to the prime minister Mirza Shahzad Akbar and former aide to the premier Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan for ‘committing contempt’ of the special court after the conviction of the former army chief.

As Shehzad Akbar and Firdous Awan didn’t turn up, the bench issued fresh notices to them directing them to appear in person on the next hearing to be fixed later.

Barrister Farogh said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had no role in this case as he had not issued any directives after the special court had delivered the verdict.

PHC exempts Farogh from contempt case hearing, asks former, current PM aides again to show up

He said that he had respect for all the courts and judges and could never think of bringing them in disrepute.

He said he regretted what he had said and that as the special court’s president, Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, was no more, he prayed for him.

The bench was hearing two identical petitions filed by lawyers Malik Ajmal Khan and Syed Azizuddin Kakakhel under Article 204 of the Constitution read with Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003.

While the two petitioners appeared in person, Barrister Farogh was accompanied by additional attorney general Qazi Babar Irshad.

Though Prime Minister Imran Khan is also a respondent in the petitions, the high court has so far not sought his reply in the case.

In Malik Ajmal’s petition, the respondents included Farogh Naseem, Shehzad Akbar and Firdous Ashiq, who is current a special assistant to the Punjab chief minister, while besides these three, the petition of Syed Azizuddin also has federal minister Fawad Chaudhry and former attorney general Anwar Mansoor as respondents.

Apart from prosecuting the alleged contemnors, petitioner Azizuddin has requested the court to disqualify the prime minister and other respondents from holding any public office for the offence of committing contempt of the court.

The petitioners have said the federal government had constituted a special court after filing a complaint against retired General Pervez Musharraf.

They added that the charge was framed against Pervez Musharraf on Feb 18, 2014, and he left the country later to avoid trial.

The petitioners said Musharraf was declared a proclaimed offender after he didn’t avail himself of many opportunities given to him to show up for hearing.

They added that the proceedings moved on afterward leading to the former military ruler’s conviction and death sentence on Dec 17, 2019.

The petitioners said except the prime minister, the other respondents had leveled different allegations against the president of the special court late Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, who was the high court chief justice, and tried to scandalise him.

They contended that those respondents were subordinate to the prime minister and under the Rules of Business, they were answerable to him but he neither took any action against them nor did he issue any clarification in that respect proving that he was also involved with them in the contempt of court.

The petitioners said the reading of that article was sufficient to initiate contempt proceedings against the culpable people.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2021

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