In press release, Supreme Court slams ‘baseless’ reports carried by segments of local media
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday issued a press release to rebuff news reports that Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa had taken personal interest in ensuring a speedy conclusion to the treason trial of former Army chief Pervez Musharraf.
Various TV channels and newspapers had, without identifying any source, broadcast or published “baseless” statements attributed to the CJP, according to the statement. These statements, reproduced in Urdu in the press release, claimed the CJP had on Dec. 17 told the Press Association of the Supreme Court that the case against Musharraf had been clear; the former Army chief had been granted several chances to submit a statement; certain elements had wished for the case to be dismissed; if the case had not been wrapped up now, it would have stretched out for years; despite hurdles, the case was finally brought to its inevitable conclusion.
In its response, the Supreme Court said an erroneous impression had been created that the CJP was personally invested in wanting the case to be concluded. “It is hereby clarified that different Benches of the Supreme Court of Pakistan had been hearing different aspects of the case of General (retd.) Pervez Musharraf and had passed various orders for early disposition of the said case,” it said, citing judgments dating back to 2015 in which the special court hearing Musharraf’s high treason case had been directed to proceed “with all convenient dispatch and without any unnecessary delay.”
The press release also noted that, in an order passed on April 1, 2019, the Supreme Court had ruled that if the accused [Musharraf] failed to surrender and appear before the court to record his statement, then under Section 9 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act, 1976, “the Special Court is empowered to proceed against the accused even in his absence.”
The press release said that Chief Justice Khosa had not issued “any direction of any sort to the Special Court other than the judicial directions issued by the relevant Benches of the Supreme Court.”
Musharraf, on Tuesday, was found guilty of high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution for abrogating the Constitution when he declared a state of emergency on Nov. 3, 2007. A three-bench special court hearing the case sentenced the former president to death in absentia, as he has been in self-exile since 2016, when the government allowed him to leave the country to seek medical treatment abroad.
At the time, the former Army chief had vowed to return “within a few weeks” to fight the case against him, but after several rounds of him refusing to return to Pakistan unless assured “foolproof security,” he was declared an absconder and the trial proceeded without him.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government has said that it believes the trial was “unfair” and denied Musharraf the right to record a statement that would have “justified” his abrogation of the Constitution. It has said it will support Musharraf’s right to appeal and will not hinder the process. A press released issued by the media arm of the armed forces has said it believes the “due process has been ignored” in seeking to conclude the case with haste.