LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday posed questions regarding the legality of the treason case filed against former dictator Pervez Musharraf and the formation of the special court that conducted the trial and handed death sentence to the retired general after finding him guilty.
A three-member bench, comprising Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Mohammad Ameer Bhatti and Justice Chaudhry Masood Jahangir, was hearing a set of petitions filed by Musharraf challenging multiple actions against him, including conviction in high treason, the establishment of the trial court and filing of the complaint by the government.
Barrister Ali Zafar, who has been appointed as the court’s amicus curea in the case, said that the case against Musharraf seemed to have been filed on the behest of the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, as there is record of the matter being on the agenda of any of the cabinet meetings held at the time.
“A case under Article 6 cannot be filed without the cabinet’s approval,” Barrister Zafar insisted. The court asked if the matter was on the agenda of any cabinet meeting, to which Zafar responded in the negative.
“None of the cabinet meetings were held on the matter,” Barrister Zafar said.
“This was history’s most important matter; can the cabinet discuss it without it being an agenda item?” the bench asked.
Justice Bhatti pointed out that during a recent case pertaining to the extension and reappointment of the army chief, the strength of the cabinet was discussed.
“But in Pervez Musharraf’s case, the cabinet’s approval or its role cannot be seen,” the judge said. Justice Bhatti was referring to a recent case pertaining to the tenure of the army chief heard by the Supreme Court, where the bench had inquired how many members of the federal cabinet had approved Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to extend the tenure of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“On June 21, 2013, the attorney general sent a summary to the prime minister that a case be prepared against Pervez Musharraf under Article 6,” Barrister Zafar told the court. “The interior secretary was given the authority to file a complaint on December 29, 2013.”
“The case that was prepared was not in accordance with the law, neither was the formation of the special court in accordance with the law,” Zafar said and added: “The complaint against Pervez Musharraf was not filed by the lawful authority; the law was violated here as well. According to the law, the cabinet has to nominate the relevant authority which would file the complaint.”
Justice Naqvi also inquired how the judges who heard the treason case were appointed.
“On what basis were the judges appointed to the special court?” he asked. “Was there a written communication regarding the appointment of judges to the special court or was everything [decided] over the telephone?”
“The Ministry of Law and Justice wrote a letter to the Supreme Court registrar [asking] for names of judges to form the special court [bench],” the counsel for the federal government told the court.