ISLAMABAD: Legal experts believe that the high treason case against former military ruler General (r) Pervez Musharraf is a closed chapter in the aftermath of the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) verdict which nullified the formation of a special court that had sentenced him to death.
A three-member bench of the high court, in its verdict, stated that the formation of the special court was unconstitutional. The bench ruled that the amended Article 6 of the Constitution, under which Musharraf had been found guilty, could not be applied in the case ‘ex post facto’ (retrospectively). It is worth mentioning here that Article 6 of the Constitution was modified through the 18th Amendment in 2010, while the case against Musharraf is related to events that happened before that.
Senior Advocate Irfan Qadir termed the LHC verdict as the right decision and said that it should have been announced long ago as the general had neither committed any treason nor did he usurp anyone’s rights.
To a question about future prospects of the case that whether it could be challenged anywhere, he categorically stated that there was no space for that and added that the Supreme Court (SC) itself will not do anything in this regard. He warned that if the apex court intervenes, it would lead to its reconstitution and would expose the judges.
He said that first the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was pressurised to initiate the case against Musharraf but the party did not do so, however, when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was pressurized, it initiated an inquiry. “The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would not initiate it again as it would serve no purpose,” he added.
Senior Advocate Arif Chaudhry said that Musharraf could have moved SC principally against the death sentence but he moved the LHC on technical grounds as when the Constitution was suspended there was no provision of death sentence in the constitution which was later incorporated under 18th Amendment.
Responding to a question about the formation of the special court which was constituted without the approval of the federal cabinet, he said that now there would be no need for challenging the death sentence since the court’s existence was declared null and void.
To another question, he said that special court was a trial court that has to follow the directives of the high court but the conduct of its judges was not appropriate and their act of refusing Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order of withholding the judgment was unconstitutional.
Advocate Abdul Raheem Wazir said that the judges have hundreds of justifications for their decisions and this verdict too was made on solid grounds. He said that the special court’s verdict should have been implemented in letter and spirit as the special court was formed on the directions of the apex court.
“The special court did not accept the IHC’s order and gave the verdict. How can the LHC declare the special court’s decision null and void?” he asked.
He further said that the case would remain closed now since the government does seem interested in pursuing it.