A special court hearing the treason charges against former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has directed the government to include the names of three senior ex-functionaries in the charge-sheet.
The order to submit an amended or additional statement as well as statement of formal charges against former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, ex-federal minister Zahid Hamid and former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar within a fortnight came after 79 hearings.
The short order, delivered at courtroom No. 6 of the Federal Shariat Court at 12:07pm on Friday – saddened the prosecutor, Akram Sheikh, who asked the registrar of the court to supply him with an attested copy of the judgment, which, he said, would be challenged in the apex court.
With a majority vote, the special court raised serious questions over the credibility of the investigations carried out by the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) three-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) – constituted by the federal government with the approval of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Though the courts are not to interfere with the manner in which investigations are carried out, but when selective or inclusive investigation is pointed out to a court, it becomes necessary to interfere to correct the wrong,” the judgment said.
Musharraf was formally charged in March this year for subverting and circumventing the Constitution by imposing emergency on November 3, 2007 – charges that he denies.
“We fail to understand why investigators did not identify others when they found material during the investigation, which, in their opinion, connected others as well with the November 3 action. The investigators ought to have taken their suspicion against unidentified persons to its logical conclusion, and in not doing so the investigators had left their assignment half finished,” it said.
The court said the prosecution – on receiving such a deficient report – ought to have thrown it back to the investigators to identify others who may have been also involved in the offence. “The competent authority on its part also failed to react to such half-hearted and inconclusive investigative work,” the court noted.
The court, however, avoided to implicate lawmakers for adopting a resolution in favour of emergency rule. The written order said no one could be implicated without active involvement.
A top member of the prosecution team told The Express Tribune that it is a bad judgment and they would approach the Supreme Court for its reversal in the light of the dissenting note of Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Justice Yawar Ali—a member of the Special Court’s three-judge bench also including Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Tahira Safdar.
Relying on former Punjab governor Khalid Maqbool’s statement that he was never consulted, Justice Yawar had written that the applicant [Musharraf] himself accepted that as army chief he had imposed emergency, adding that no witness had appeared before the court in support of Musharraf.
In its judgment, the court said former law minister Zahid Hamid and former premier Shaukat Aziz consulted each other “which shows the rule of emergency was pre-planned”.
“We are, therefore, of the view that a joinder of the then prime minister and then federal law minister and [former CJ] Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar is necessary to secure the ends of justice,” the judgment said.
The court admitted that by joining the as co-accused, the conclusion of this trial might get delayed. “But where a charge of abetment is to be tried then the right thing to do is to order a joint trial along with the accused, which is also a mandatory requirement of the code of the criminal procedure,” the order said.
Earlier this year, Musharraf’s counsel Farogh Naseem had requested the court to include accomplices in the trial. Labeling the request as premature, Prosecutor Akram Sheikh had said the issue regarding the co-accused could be raised when witnesses record their testimonies.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2014.
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