ISLAMABAD- Contrary to the stance of former President Pervez Musharraf’s counsel the prosecution Tuesday pleaded that the army personnel couldn’t be tried for high treason offence under the Pakistan Army Act 1952 as it has no such provision.
“The law (Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 1977), on which the defence team heavily relied and argued for two days, was not a valid law as it was struck down by the Lahore High Court bench, headed by Justice Aslam Riaz Hussain, one month and five days of its promulgation on 5th June 1977 and later the Supreme Court upheld the LHC verdict,” argued Akram Sheikh.
The Army (Amendment) Act 1977 was promulgated on 30th April 1977. A three-judge Special Court headed by Justice Faisal Arab and comprising Justice Tahira Safdar and Justice Yawar Ali Khan was hearing high treason case against General (retd) Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution. Dr. Khalid Ranjha’s arguments are that the Army Act 1952 duly provides for the trial of high treason offence of army personnel in view of the sections related to high treason mentioned in the Pakistan Army Amendment Act 1977.
Public Prosecutor Akram Sheikh argued that a law which had been declared unconstitutional by the superior court was contended by the defence counsel for two days, adding Army Amendment Acts X & XI 1977 had been declared invalid by the courts. He asked the three-judge Special Court that it needed to be seen whether the offence of high treason falls in the ambit of civil offence, and whether the offence of high treason is triable under Army Act 1952. The prosecutor argued if the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 1977 was in existence then there was no need to amend Army Act 1952. The PML-Q government in December 2007 promulgated Ordinance LXVI of 2007 to amend the Pakistan Army Act, 1952. He pleaded high treason offence was never part of the Army Act, adding in the Ordinance LXVI 2007 many serious offences, except high treason, were included for trail by military courts.
Earlier, Dr. Ranjha contended that the Army Amended Act 1977 was promulgated even for the trial of civilian under military courts. The Army Act 1977 was promulgated on 30th April 1977 in five districts including Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad, Quetta and Peshawar for the trial of civilians by military courts.
Justice Tahira Safdar observed that the Act 1977 extends to the areas and shall remain in force until the Armed Forces of Pakistan acting therein in for the time being in aid of civil power in pursuance of Article 245 of the Constitution.
Dr. Ranjha urged the court to forget that Musharraf is now retired officer, adding when he had committed high treason at that time he was in military uniform. He said under the Army Act 1952 it was the choice of the army officers, even after their retirement, whether they be tried in the criminal courts or the court martial.
The special court was formed by the government last year to try 70-year-old Musharraf on charges of high treason for imposing emergency in 2007. Ranjha argued that the special court cannot conduct the trial of a serving or retired military personnel. The hearing was adjourned till today. The defence counsel had concluded his arguments.