Islamabad - The federal government Friday pleaded before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to form a larger bench to hear the petitions challenging the verdict of special court, currently conducting high treason case under Article 6 against former military ruler General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Afnan Karim Kundi representing the federal government requested the court to form a larger bench for hearing the appeals of co-accused against the order of special court.

He gave this suggestion before the single bench of IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah who was hearing the petitions moved by former Federal Minister for Science & Technology Zahid Hamid and Justice (Retd) Abdul Hameed Dogar.

In their petitions, they have challenged the special court’s verdict dated November 21 where the special court had ordered the prosecution to also proceed against them along with former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

Besides these two petitions, Justice Minallah also heard another petition of former president of High Court Bar Association (HCBA) Rawalpindi who was seeking separate trial of the co-accused from the trial of Musharraf.

During the hearing, the IHC bench heard the petitioner’s counsel who put forward their arguments about the admissibility of the petitions.

The AAG stated before the court that since the special court comprises three judges of the high courts; therefore, a larger bench of high court should hear these matters. “This treason case is first of its kind in Pakistan’s history and it would set precedent for future; therefore, combined wisdom of the larger bench may be involved to decide the matter,” maintained Afnan.

However, the IHC bench remarked that it would decide the matter after hearing Barrister Farogh Nasim, the counsel for Musharraf, and attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) regarding maintainability of this case.

On this occasion, counsels for Zahid Hamid and Justice (Retd) Dogar argued on the maintainability of the case.

Zahid Hamid’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed Advocate said that the IHC could hear this matter as November 21 order of the special court was not a final judgment. Under the laws for special court, only final judgment could be challenged before Supreme Court of Pakistan.

He said that the order of November 21 of the special court was not the final verdict as it was an order passed on an application of Gen (Retd) Musharraf.

Haris further contended that the special court could not direct the federal government to include certain individuals as accused in the treason case.

Iftikhar Gilani Advocate, the counsel for Justice (Retd) Dogar, argued that his client was condemned unheard and special court passed an adverse order against him. He said that several judges took oath under the November 3, 2007 emergency Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) but the special court only included his client as co-accused with observations that there were concrete evidence for his alleged involvement in imposition of emergency.

Gilani said that the Supreme Court in its July 31, 2009 judgement passed in the Sindh High Court Bar Association petition did not mention involvement of Justice (Retd) Dogar in imposition of emergency.

Former president of HCBAR also concluded his arguments.

Later, the court deferred the hearing for further proceedings till December 23.

Earlier, the registrar office of IHC has raised objections over all three petitions of the Dogar, Zahid Hamid and Taufiq Asif that the high court could not hear any petition filed against the special court proceedings and the proper appellate forum for such a petition is the Supreme Court.

Now, the IHC single bench is hearing these petitions along with the objections of Registrar office over them and first, it would decide the maintainability of these petitions.