ISLAMABAD - The Special Court on Friday affirmed its jurisdiction and declared that Code of Criminal Procedure applies to Musharraf treason case, ending almost all the options for the 70-year-old former military strongman to avoid appearance.
After hearing different applications filed by the defence, the court passed an order stating that the court has power to conduct trial, issue arrest warrant of the accused and frame high treason charges. It also stated that according to Section 12 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act (CLAA) 1976, only final judgment of this court could be challenged in the Supreme Court.
The trial court had so far exercised restraint and did not issue arrest warrants for the ex-president despite his repeated non-compliance to the court summons, but after Friday’s orders it is almost clear that if Musharraf would not appear again on January 16, the court would issue arrest warrants.
The Court on Thursday (January 9), rejecting medical report of the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), passed the order for his appearance on 16-1-2014, saying the accused has failed to obey and comply the order of this court. His lawyers submitted an application for stay against January 9 order which was turned down on the premise that the special court has no authority of reviewing its own orders.
Earlier during Friday’s proceedings, Defence counsel Anwar Mansoor filed an application seeking stay against January 9 order. He said that they have raised the issue of this court jurisdiction therefore the court first decide it. He said the notification by the federal government for establishment of special court was not in accordance with the Article 90 of the constitution.
Justice Faisal Arab remarked that it was a criminal case. “We have been consciously carrying out proceedings of the case and condoned his absence on the ground that he was hospitalised.” He went on saying that there was no written exemption sought by Musharraf on health grounds. “We don’t want him to appear before the court on every hearing but he has to appear at least once for framing of charge,” he added.
Lead Public Prosecutor Akram Sheikh contended that according to Section 369 of CrPc if a judge signs an order then it could not be altered or amended; only some clerical error could be rectified. Referring to Section 12 of the CLAA 1976, he argued that neither any order of this court could be challenged nor applications could be filed for its review. However, special court’s final judgment can be reviewed by the Supreme Court, he added.
Akram Sheikh stated that the purpose of such applications was to delay the proceedings. He said the counsels of the accused have completed arguments on the jurisdiction. He said that Tariq Hassan, another prosecutor, had informed that only a court before which a case is filed has the authority to decide about its jurisdiction and this principle applies worldwide.
Earlier, when the proceeding resumed, Justice Faisal Arab expressed displeasure over misreporting in print and electronic media of court’s orders, particularly that of January 9, and maintained that the media should play its role with responsibility. He said it was very important case in the history of the country. He sought suggestions from both the sides in this regard. Akram Sheikh and Anwar Mansoor expressed their readiness in extending full cooperation to the court.
Akram Sheikh urged the court to pass appropriate directions to both the sides so they refrain from making statements before the media. He made request for maintaining cordial atmosphere in and outside the court, saying this way the respect and prestige of the court could be enhanced and its good image would be presented before the world. Anwar Mansoor informed the court that they had already lodged complaint regarding leakage of Musharraf’s medical reports in the media. The court adjourned further hearing until January 16.