ISLAMABAD - The Special Court trying former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in high treason under Article 6 on Monday directed secretary interior to appear before the court on August 29.
The secretary interior is directed to explain the ministry's position as to why Musharraf was not produced before the court despite non-bailable arrest warrants.
The Special Court on the next date of hearing will also hear the arguments whether or not the trial could further be continued without recording of accused person's statement under Section 342 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
A two-judge Special Bench presided by Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Justice Yawar Ali took up the high treason case for hearing.
Justice Yawar observed that the other member Justice Nazar Akbar was of the view that provision of security to Musharraf was the government's responsibility once the non-bailable arrest warrants had been issued.
The court also expressed displeasure over former Prosecution Head Akram Sheikh for not informing the court regarding his stepping down from being head of the prosecution.
On December 4, 2013, the PML-N government issued a notification regarding the appointment of Akram Sheikh as the head of prosecution.
In July of 2018, Sheikh had stepped down as the head of the prosecution team stating that he was appointed by the previous government led by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), adding he deemed it appropriate to tender his resignation since the new government was set to take over.
During the hearing, the SC observed that Sheikh should have filed the application before this court if he wanted to step back instead of writing to interior ministry directly.
Member of prosecution Nasirud Din Nayyar informed the bench that Sheikh himself could respond on this issue.
During the hearing, Justice Yawar asked as to whether the accused Musharraf was appearing before the court.
Akhtar Shah, counsel representing Musharraf, informed the bench that his client will be appeared before the court only if provision of appropriate security to him on his return is guaranteed.
He contended that his client should be provided the security of president level adding that he will appear subject to provision of security.
Justice Yawar observed that his learned member was of the opinion that provision of security was responsibility of government once non-bailable warrant had been issued.
When the court asked regarding his power of attorney, Advocate Shah informed that his client had given him permission when Barrister Farogh Naseem, now the Law Minister in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ruling government, and Advocate Faisal Chaudhry, brother of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, were pleading the case on behalf of Musharraf.
The SC also declined the request of Advocate Shah for submitting arguments on different applications filed by Musharraf and his family members.
The SC was requested for arguments on a miscellaneous application regarding defreezing bank account of Musharraf’s mother Zohra Musharraf.
However, the SC ruled that this application will be looked into on next date of hearing. While issuing directives for secretary interior, the SC adjourned the hearing till August 29.
Regarding recording of statement under Section 342, then federal government of PMLN on April 28 had requested the SC to conclude the trial even in the absence of accused Musharraf.
“The Compliance of Section 342 Cr.PC depends on the conduct of the accused. In case there is no prejudice to the accused (Musharraf), non compliance of this section by itself does not vitiate the trial.” “The instant proceedings (treason case) are covered by provision of special law, which lays down the entire manner of regulating proceedings of those who are present and of those who choose to stay away from the Court. The law also deals with persons having poor health and declares it not to be a valid ground for adjournment of the Case. The law also mandates the Honourable Special Court to pass a judgment notwithstanding the presence or otherwise of the accused.”
For the purpose of early disposal, the application had cited a judgment of Supreme Court in Abdul Hameed Dogar Case and stated that the top court had also directed to proceed with the trial with all convenient dispatch and without any unnecessary delay.
“It is incumbent upon this Honourable Court to abide by the order of the apex court which is an appellate Court to this learned Court in letter and spirit and particularly when the accused Respondent had boasted and tried to drag in extraneous factors like help by his Institution to flee the law of the land and constitutional mandate,” the application read.
However, it is to be seen what new ruling PTI in the federal government forms its opinion if the case should be proceeded in immediate manner.
Also it merits mention that two lawyers of Mushrraf in the case namely Barrister Farogh Naseem has been given the portfolio of Ministry of Law and Justice while the other Advocate Anwar Mansoor is being considered to be appointed to the post of Attorney General for Pakistan.