–Court says Musharraf can record his statement anytime prior to next hearing
–Says special court not bound to implement Islamabad High Court’s decision
ISLAMABAD: A special court on Thursday expressed its displeasure at the non-submission of a written response by former military strongman General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s government-appointed lawyer, Raza Bashir in a high treason case against the former president.
While reserving its verdict in the case earlier this month, the special court, which was halted by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) from announcing its judgement, had ruled that Musharraf’s counsel could submit written arguments by Nov 26.
The IHC had issued its ruling on a petition filed by the Interior Ministry which sought deferment of the announcement of the verdict in the case. “For reasons to be recorded later, we allow writ petition […] filed by the Ministry of Interior,” the court had said in its short order, setting aside the special court’s Nov 19 decision to reserve its judgment in the case.
During Thursday’s proceedings by a three-member bench headed by Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth, Advocate Bashir appeared in the court and informed the bench that they had submitted an application seeking Musharraf’s acquittal.
A representative of the Interior Ministry was also in court. Justice Seth told the representative that the high court had granted the government time till December 5 to appoint a prosecution team.
“After December 5, we will not give you further time,” he said, adding that they would hear the case on a daily basis after that date.
The judge said that Musharraf could record his statements anytime prior to the next hearing, adding that they would not accept any application after the hearing.
“We are not bound to implement the high court’s decision,” said Justice Shahid Karim, adding: “We are only bound by the Supreme Court’s orders.”
“We will not comment on the high court’s decision,” added Justice Seth.
The proceedings were adjourned until Dec 5.
HIGH TREASON CASE:
The high treason trial of the former military dictator for clamping the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007, filed during the PML-N government, has been pending since 2013.
He was booked in the treason case in December 2013. Musharraf was indicted on March 31, 2014, and the prosecution had tabled the entire evidence before the special court in September the same year. However, due to litigation at appellate forums, the trial of the former military dictator lingered on and he left Pakistan in March 2016 with the nod of superior courts as well as the interior ministry.
Since then he has been an absconder in the case.