ISLAMABAD - The federal government on Saturday requested the special court trying former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in the high treason case for early adjudication of trial and pronounce the judgment.

The federal government has also requested the special court to conclude the trial in the absence of accused, Musharraf. 

“Respectfully, the interest of justice can never be aligned with the delay in the trial, rather the interest of justice is served only by the conclusion of the case,” says an application moved by the prosecution.

“The instant proceedings (treason case) are covered by the 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 special court to pass a judgment notwithstanding the presence or otherwise of the accused.”

Interestingly, the application is moved by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led federal government barely a month prior to the completion of its tenure.

Following the recusal of Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Yahya Afridi on March 29, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has reconstituted a three-judge bench of the special court with Lahore High Court Chief Justice Yawar Ali leading the bench.

The other two members comprised of Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court and Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court.

The application has been filed under Section 6(1)(d) and Section 9 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act 1976 by prosecution head Muhammad Akram Sheikh.

The application says that “Musharraf has availed the full opportunity of cross-examining all the prosecution witnesses and to his heart's content. In fact, he has been grossly abusing the process of the special court and displayed a contumacious conduct.”

The application further says that “the turn of events have unfolded and Musharraf has categorically made a statement to the media abroad that he left the country with the help of his institution thereby casting aspersions on armed forces and the then chief of army staff Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif.”

“It is most unfortunate that the case primarily was for imposition of martial law, abrogating the Constitution detaining over 100 judges of the superior courts without any lawful authority, promulgating Oath of Office (Judges) Order 2007, resulting in reconstituting the entire superior judiciary and then conferring the powers for restoring the Constitution to himself. In the peculiar background, facts and circumstances, the accused (Musharraf) has tried to embarrass the country and has posed himself to be an individual more powerful than any other constitutional institution,” the application stated.

“He has further, publicly made a statement that when he (Musharraf) will return when he will politically consider it expedient and not otherwise, thereby maligning the most sacred institution of the superior judiciary in Pakistan which act cannot be countenanced or approved under any circumstances.”

The application cited a judgment of the Supreme Court in the 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 court to abide by the order of the apex court which is an appellate court to this 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 reads.

“The compliance of Section 342 CrPC 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 question of whether prejudice has been caused to the accused or not is one of inference from the facts and circumstances of each case, the application says” adding that Musharraf has been represented by counsel and he knows clearly of the charges and was indicted in person.

“It seems by the manifest conduct of the accused that his interest is in ultimately frustrating any culmination of this treason trial.”

“The bundle of rights colloquially known as “fair trial rights” consists of inter alia the right to be heard by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal, the right to a public hearing, the right to a counsel and most importantly the right to be heard within a “reasonable” time.   It is not just the interest of the accused (Musharraf) but of all the stakeholders including the citizens of Pakistan that this trial be concluded within a reasonable time.”

The application prayed the special court to conclude the trial and pronounces the judgment on the basis of available record without waiting for the presence of Musharraf.