ISLAMABAD  - The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that the interim government has apparently not taken any action against former dictator president Pervez Musharraf and summoned details from the interior secretary about it.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, was hearing five identical petitions seeking a treason trial against Gen (r) Musharraf.

At the onset of the hearing, federation’s representative Attorney General Irfan Qadir wanted to make oral submission but the court stopped him and directed him to file reply at 12am. After the court break, he submitted federation’s written stance.

The reply raised questions about interim government’s mandate and its priorities regarding the constitutional and legal obligations. It asked: “Whether it has a mandate in view of the paucity of time in terms of its priorities according to which the foremost priority is to ensure free and fair elections in the country”;

“Whether preparation for a case of high treason in the present circumstances would in any way adversely affect the impartiality of the caretakers as viewed by people of Pakistani in general and political parties in particular”;

And “Whether it would be proper to initiate any such proceedings after the holding of elections or before that, since Ministry of Interior is presently preoccupied in providing security to thousands of candidates of all over Pakistan and their entire focus is presently on forthcoming elections”.

The court observed that the federation prima facie appeared not to have taken any step for constituting a special court in compliance of the bench’s April 15 order, and to-date it has not authorised anyone to make a written complaint under Section 3 of High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973 against Musharraf.

Justice Jawad S Khawaja said: “We have common objective and that is to respect rule of law and to protect the constitution.” Justice Khilji remarked that previously the court’s orders were not given much importance, but they hoped the interim setup would not ignore their orders. Apparently it is the responsibility of the federation to register a lawsuit in this case, he said.

Acting law secretary Sohail Qadeer Siddiqui informed the court his ministry did not contain any documents indicating initiation of any process against pervez Musharaf under Article 6. He said under SROs, the interior ministry, under High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973 or under Criminal Law (Amended) Special Courts Act 1976, was responsible to take action.

The bench then directed the interior secretary to submit relevant documents pertaining to the steps taken after the Sindh High Court Bar Association judgment, Senate unanimous resolution or after March 24, when Musharraf landed in Pakistan. The court ordered Musharraf’s lawyers to give an application to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for constitution of larger bench.

Petitioner Taufiq Asif said there were news that there was a difference between the stance of the federal government and that of the attorney general. He demanded that attorney general, like the Punjab advocate general, should resign as he has mandate of some party.

Another petitioner, Ahsanud Din Sheikh contended that the interim government had also taken oath to defend and protect the constitution, adding if the caretaker setup could perform other functions, why it could it not proceed against Musharraf who subverted the constitution.

Justice Jawwad S Khawaja observed that normally a Sessions judge, acting as Justice of Peace, files complaints under Order 22-A. But, he said, this case is not ordinary and in it the Special Court, comprising of three High Court judges, has to be constituted and the federation has to register case of high treason under Article 6 read with Section 3 of High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973 against ex-army chief. The hearing was adjourned until April 22.

Aitzaz demands full court

Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan has demanded formation of a full-court bench to hear petitions levelling high treasons charges on former president Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf.

Talking to the media on Lahore High Court bar premises here on Wednesday, Aitzaz said if the Supreme Court had formed a full-court bench to hear National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), nullified later, then there should be the same to hear the Musharraf issue.

“The Musharraf issue is a challenge for the judiciary,” he maintained.

“Let’s see, how the judges treat a man who had detained them,” he said while adding the judges had punished the man who had restored them.

The current wave of terrorism would affect the upcoming general elections; however, the powers should be transferred to a civilian government as per the Constitution. “The bomb attacks are a conspiracy wherein certain political parties are being targeted,” he added.