Pak Supreme Court to take up now dead Musharraf’s plea against death penalty

John McCluskey

Pak Supreme Court to take up now dead Musharraf’s plea against death penalty

Pakistan’s apex court will commence on Friday the hearing on a set of appeals also moved by the now deceased former military ruler Pervez Musharraf seeking to overturn a death conviction handed out to him by a special court in a high treason case, a media report said on Monday.

In 2019, Musharraf was sentenced to death in absentia by the special court which found him guilty of high treason, for imposing a state of emergency on November 3, 2007, by keeping the Constitution in abeyance.

The judgement angered the country’s powerful army that has ruled over Pakistan for most of the period since its 75 plus year existence. It was the first time a former top military official had faced such a sentence for treason in Pakistan. The death sentence was later annulled by the Lahore High Court.

A four-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Aminud Din Khan and Justice Athar Minallah will hear the appeals seeking to overturn the death conviction awarded to Musharraf by the Special Court, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Musharraf, through his counsel Salman Safdar, had instituted the appeal with a plea to set aside the conviction since the trial was conducted and completed “in sheer violation of the Constitution as well as the Code of Criminal Proce­dure (CrPC) 1898 as well as the suspension of the judgment in the interest of justice and fair play.”

The appeal said the former president was tried for a constitutional crime in an entirely unconstitutional manner, the paper reported.

The petition stated that Musharraf was a highly decorated former four-star General of the Pakistan Army and he had a “remarkably distinguished career”.

In a separate development, the Sindh High Court Bar Association had also challenged the January 2020 Lahore High Court decision of declaring as unconstitutional the decision of the Special Court and sought to set aside the high court judgment.

The petition also pleaded to the apex court to restore the conviction by the Special Court for subverting the Constitution.

Filed by counsel Rasheed A. Razvi, the appeal had pleaded that the high court verdict suffers from gross illegality, mis-appreciation of facts, non-appreciation of law and, therefore, liable to be set aside by the apex court.

The appeal contended that the high court verdict was based on a misreading of evidence without appreciating the material produced by the prosecution during the trial. Moreover, the high court has also failed to take note of the fact that the material produced by the prosecution before the Special Court was not denied by Gen Musharraf at any stage of the case.

The petition contended that the high court verdict was contrary to the law laid down by the superior courts as well as against the dicta laid down by the Supreme Court in the case 2019 Lahore High Court Bar Association case.

Musharraf, the architect of the Kargil War in 1999, died in Dubai after a prolonged illness in February 2023.

The 79-year-old former military ruler, who had been in the UAE since 2016, was undergoing treatment for amyloidosis at a hospital in Dubai.

Published By:

Sudeep Lavania

Published On:

Nov 6, 2023

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