Secretary Interior Qamar Zaman Chaudhry by virtue of his post will be the complainant against former president General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf to initiate Article 6 trial against him on charges of holding the constitution in abeyance.

The procedure to initiate proceedings under Article 6 against any person on charges of subversion or abrogation of constitution has been mentioned in Clause 3 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973.

The Clause 3 under the head of procedure says, “No court shall take cognisance of an offence punishable under this act except upon a complaint in writing made by a person authorised by the federal government in this behalf.”

However, then federal government through an SRO issued in 1994 authorised the secretary interior to become the complainant by virtue of his post against any person or persons alleged with charges of high treason under Article 6.

Omer Hameed Khan, the spokesman of the interior ministry, did not respond to the query sent through SMS twice on his cell phone whether the ministry had received any directions from the federal government to initiate Article 6 proceedings against Musharraf and his accomplices.

Interestingly, the federal government will have to constitute a special court under the Criminal Law (amended) Special Courts Act, 1976, to initiate trial against Musharraf and his accomplices under Article 6.

According to the Clause 1 of Article 6, any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason. Under its clause 2, any person aiding or abetting or collaborating the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.

The clause 3 of Article 6 says that Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason while the High Treason (Punishment) ACT, 1973 provides for the punishment of persons found guilty of acts of abrogation or subversion of Constitution or of high treason.

The Clause 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) ACT, 1973 says, “A person who is found guilty — (a) of having committed an act of abrogation or subversion of a constitution in force in Pakistan at any time since the twenty-third day of March, 1956; or (b) of high treason as defined in Article 6 of the Constitution, shall be punishable with death or imprisonment for life”.