Slow progress : High profile cases linger on

Musharraf treason case, Lakhvi trial yet to be concluded

Rizwan Shehzad September 06, 2015
Musharraf treason case, Lakhvi trial yet to be concluded. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: High profile cases are lingering on in courts, causing delay to others cases and consuming substantial time of courts.

Two such cases have not yet been concluded despite directives from the top court of the country and a high court.

Stipulated time to conclude the trials of the former President General (ret) Pervez Musharraf and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attack case, has lapsed.

The two high-profile cases were supposed to be concluded in last June as per the directions of the superior courts. Multiple reasons may be attributed to the delay.

The Supreme Court (SC) had directed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to conclude treason trial of the former president within a month on May 7, 2015, while the IHC had ordered an anti-terrorism court (ATC) to conclude trial of Lakhvi within two months on April 13, 2015. In May, the SC gave the IHC a month’s time to conclude hearing of petitions against its earlier judgment that, as per media reports, barred the special court from proceeding against the former president in the treason case.

A special bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq, however, clarified on July 7 that the IHC never halted the trial rather suspension of proceedings was up to the special court.

The bench said that on December 23, 2014 the court in its order had stated that the special court “may suspend” its proceedings, adding that it could continue proceedings as per the constitution.

“It is not possible to conclude this trial in a month,” said Faisal Choudhry, a counsel for Musharraf.

“SC issued directions in absence of aggrieved parties as well as my client,” he contended, adding that the aggrieved parties never appeared before the SC and the petitioner, Taufiq Asif, who got one month’s direction, was an “alien petitioner” in the case whose place before the IHC as well, had yet to be determined.

“Directions are given for normal circumstances but where there are technical issues, more than two litigants and ‘acts of God’ are involved, delay is unavoidable, he said.

Over suspension of proceedings at the special court, Asif added that special court can’t proceed further unless IHC decides the matter.

He said the special court had ordered to include abettors in the case, and the matter was pending since the decision was challenged. “Now, when the government has also shown willingness to include and investigate more people in the case, further delay is expected,” he added. The case is fixed for the last week of September.

Meanwhile, the IHC in its April 13, order allowed the FIA to examine 22 more witnesses of its choice in the Lakhvi case. It could not happen.

Special prosecutor Hussain Abuzar Pirzada said that the first and the foremost reason of the delay was the fact that the record of Lakhvi’s case was transferred from the IHC to the ATC, with a delay of one-and-a-half month following court orders.

Since then, only a few hearings have taken place and four to five witnesses have so far recorded their statements, the prosecutor said.

Commenting on the stipulated time, Pirzada says the court has only given an assessment in the case as no time-frame could be given for examining witnesses in any case. He says statements, cross examination and other legal formalities take a lot of time and hardly two to three witnesses could be examined in a day.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th,  2015.


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