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Musharraf facing petitions galore

March 28, 2013

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Former President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf.—File Photo.

ISLAMABAD: Difficult days seem to be ahead for retired Gen Pervez Musharraf with one petition after another being moved against him in the Supreme Court.

A reference was made in the court on Wednesday and senior counsel A.K. Dogar recalled the apex court’s July 31, 2009 verdict holding the Nov 3, 2007 emergency unconstitutional and argued that Gen Musharraf stood convicted on the basis of the judgment.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is hearing a petition of Dr Mobashir Hassan seeking that elections be held in strict adherence to articles 62 and 63 of the constitution which lays down criteria for qualification and disqualification of the candidates.

Mr Dogar read out excerpts from the judgment in which the apex court had firmly held that holding the constitution in abeyance or any other act having the effect of discontinuing the operation and enforceability of the constitution for a single moment in a manner not authorised under the constitution was tantamount to overthrowing the constitution or subverting the constitution and thereby committing the offence of high treason.

The counsel referred to another verdict of the apex court in the 1997 Al-Jihad Trust case and said the court had already held that any verdict of the Supreme Court became part of the constitution.

Later talking to Dawn, he explained that the verdict had become law of the land and that Gen Musharraf stood convicted on the basis of this declaration. Only a sentence needed to be passed against him, he said.

During the proceedings, the chief justice said any objection to Gen Musharraf’s candidature could be raised before the returning officer at the time of the filing of nomination papers, adding that the apex court had already held in the Tahirul Qadri case that it never granted relief in person-specific cases.

He observed that nobody, not even the Election Commission of Pakistan, was saying that the criteria laid down in articles 62 and 63 of the constitution for candidates would not be accepted. He rejected a plea for issuing any standard operating procedure or rules and regulations for implementing these provisions.

However, the court postponed the proceedings to next week to enable Advocates A.K. Dogar and Azhar Siddiq to seek instructions from Dr Mobashir, the petitioner, to narrow down the scope of prayers by amending the petition.

In a related development, the Lahore High Court Bar Association, Rawalpindi, moved on Wednesday a petition seeking a court’s order for the federal government to file a complaint against Gen Musharraf to be prosecuted under the High Treason (punishment) Act of 1973.

It also requested the court to order the government to immediately take Gen Musharraf into custody till the time prosecution under the high treason was completed for assaulting the judiciary by proclaiming the state of emergency. Advocate Hamid Khan will plead the case.

Another two petitions filed on Monday requested the Supreme Court to put the name of Gen Musharraf on the exit control list (ECL).

The first petition filed by Advocate Tariq Asad on behalf of former Khateeb of Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz said that since the former president was a prime suspect in the 2007 mosque operation his name should be put on the ECL.

The other moved by Advocate Maulvi Iqbal Haider pleaded that the retired general be restrained from leaving the country till the apex court heard an appeal challenging the Sindh High Court’s order of initiating a treason case under article 6 of the constitution against him for proclaiming the Provisional Constitution Order on Nov 3, 2007.

A three-judge bench headed by the chief justice will take up Maulvi Iqbal’s petition on Thursday.