LAHORE: The ailing former military ruler, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, has petitioned the Lahore High Court (LHC) to stay the proceedings of a special court trying him for “subverting the Constitution on November 3, 2007” until he recuperates and appears before the court in person.
The three-judge special court, which has been hearing the high treason case against Musharraf since 2013, reserved its verdict on November 19 after the prolonged trial during which members of the bench continued to change due to various reasons.
The verdict will be announced on November 28 in the absence of Musharraf, who had flown to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in May 2016 for ‘medical treatment’ and has not returned since to face the court. The high reason charge carries the capital punishment in Pakistan.
However, ahead of the verdict, Musharraf has filed a writ petition under Article 199 and nominated the federation as respondent through the secretaries of Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Law, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) through its director-general and the special court through its registrar.
The former president told the court that due to his deteriorating health, multiple life-threatening ailments and his ageing mother, he has not been able to return to Pakistan, despite a strong desire.
He requested the court to pass direction and declare the impugned order passed by the special court on November 19 as unconstitutional. He also requested the court to uphold the fundamental rights of the petitioner guaranteed under the Constitution.
“In exercising its discretionary relief, the court must look at the balance of convenience, which lies heavily in favour of the petitioner, as taking away his right to a pleader of his choice, as well as his right to an audience, as a direct consequence of his infirmity, will not only seriously prejudice his case but also set a precedent for all future cases where infirm accused are at a material disadvantage to healthy ones in defending their trails,” his petition read.
He requested the court that the respondents be directed to conduct a proper and unbiased investigation into the case, particularly with regards to the names of all alleged aiders and abettors for the proper appreciation of facts and evidence at trial.
The former president contended that the application he had filed under section 265-K of CrPC may also be taken up by the special court and disposed of at the earliest.
Musharraf requested that operation of the offending portion of section 9 of the Criminal Law Amendments (special court) Act 1976, denying the accused an adjournment even on grounds of illness and thereby impacting this right to life, be suspended and declared unconstitutional and the trial be adjourned till the petitioner’s medical condition allows for his safe return to the country to face trial.
“The respondents are all performing functions in connection with the affairs of the federation and a petitioner is a person directly aggrieved by their actions in the present case, therefore, he has locus standi to bring the present judicial review proceedings before this court,” he concluded