ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict barring the special court from announcing a decision in the long-overdue high treason case against former dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was challenged in the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The November 27 decision, which came a day before the verdict was due, was announced by a two-member bench comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani. The petition was filed by the interior ministry.
Filed by former president Lahore High Court Bar Association Taufiq Asif, the petition questions the jurisdiction of the IHC to
examine proceedings pending before the special court comprising high court judges.
It also questions whether the high court has jurisdiction to assume the role of an appellate court.
Furthermore, the petition also questions the maintainability of the interior ministry’s petition on grounds that it maybe have been filed “with ulterior motives”.
It said there were attempts to “withdraw the case inter alia” on the grounds that the federal cabinet’s approval was not taken at the time of the filing of the complaint against Musharraf.
The petitioner further argued that the IHC judgment is contrary to the Constitution and the law of Pakistan. The petition notes that the former army chief was also declared a proclaimed offender due to failure to appear before the special court.
The petition prayed to the apex court to set aside IHC verdict and declare it without lawful authority and jurisdiction thus of consequence.
The IHC decision
In its verdict, the high court ordered the federal government to notify a new prosecutor by December 5 and directed the special court to fix a date for “affording a reasonable opportunity of hearing” to the newly-notified prosecution team and Musharraf’s counsel.
The bench observed that the special court was expected to “take into consideration” the grounds raised in an application filed by the former president seeking acquittal.
“The learned special court is expected to conclude the proceedings expeditiously having [regard] to the cardinal principles of a fair trial,” said the short order.
The high court also allowed Musharraf’s counsel Barrister Salman Safdar to assist the counsel appointed for the ex-president during the hearing.