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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will hear former president and army chief General (retired) Pervez Musharraf’s appeal against his conviction in a high treason case by Special Court from November 21.

A four-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and comprising Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Athar Minallah, and Justice Aminuddin Khan, on Friday, heard petitions of ex-COAS, and Bar Councils.

The bench will also hear the petitions of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA), former President of Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA), Rawalpindi Bench, and others against a three-member bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC)’s verdict to declare the judgment of the Special Court null and void.

The counsels of Pervez Musharraf and Bar Council/ Association did not object to numbering and fixing in the court; therefore, the bench directed the SC Office to number and fix Musharraf’s and others appeals in the court.

The bench ordered Barrister Salman Safdar, who represented the former army chief, to get instruction from the legal heirs of Pervez Musharraf on the Bar Council/ Associations appeals, filed against the LHC’s judgment.

During the proceeding, Salman said that he is in touch with the family members of Pervez Musharraf, adding the retired General’s wife is in Pakistan, while his son is abroad. He further said that the Special Court established under the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act, 1976 on 17-12-2019 had awarded him death sentence.

He contended that Musharraf’s trial was conducted in absentia, and the Special Court announced the judgment in his absence. He submitted that his client had a right to file an appeal against the Special Court verdict; therefore, submitted an appeal on 16-01-2020 in the Supreme Court, which was in time. However, the SC Registrar’s Office raised objections on it that the accused should surrender before the Court for filing of appeal. He stated as Musharraf was ailing and admitted in the hospital; therefore, could not come.

Salman also said that Justice Umar Ata Bandial, on 25-02-2020, after hearing the contentions of the counsel against the Registrar Office’s objections, in chamber, ordered that the appeal should be fixed in the court. He said despite that order, the appeal was not numbered and fixed in the last four years.

He stated that the judgment (Benazir Bhutto vs chairman Ehtesab Bureau) cited by Justice Bandial for hearing Musharraf’s appeal was fully applicable both in facts and law. He contended the right of appeal is in accordance with the constitution and fair trial and due process enunciated in Article 10A of the constitution.

When the chief justice questioned why the appeal was not fixed, Salman replied; “I have an inability to answer this question.” He; however, stated that the delay of fixing of appeal can’t be attributed to Pervez Musharraf and the counsel, adding one should not suffer on account of the court’s inaction. Justice Faez told him that if the Court (SC) was at fault then he should have said so. “Until we are not accountable then how could we hold others accountable?”

The counsels of the PBC, the SHCBA, and the LHCBA, Rawalpindi Bench, submitted that the judgment rendered by a three-judge bench of the LHC was illegal, unconstitutional, coram non judice, and void. They also said that the petition filed before the LHC under Article 199 of the Constitution was non-maintainable because the High Court could not have heard the matter for no jurisdiction legal and territorial, but the LHC assumed the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

Hamid Khan, appearing on behalf of ex-president LHCBA, said that the LHC in collateral jurisdiction has virtually set aside the Special Court’s verdict and also held proceedings and judgment of the Special Court, non-existent. He also stated that the High Court also disregarded the order of the Supreme Court, passed on April 1, 2019. The case was adjourned until November 21.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Parvez Nov 11, 2023 05:09pm
Musharraf is dead and gone......the sudden rush to hear this case and that to by the SC is puzzling.
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