ISLAMABAD    -   The Supreme Court on Monday directed a special court to decide modus operandi for recording statement of former military ruler General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf in the high treason case.  The top court, however, ruled that it would intervene in case the special court , hearing high treason case, fails to reach conclusion on how to record Musharraf’s statement.

“If the law is silent over the matter, the Supreme Court has the power to act given by Pakistan’s Constitution,” observed Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa while heading a three-judge bench.  The top court also proposed three options on how the statement of Musharraf should be recorded.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Khosa and comprising Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Yahya Afridi heard the review petition filed by Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) through its then president Advocate Taufeeq Asif for prosecuting Musharraf under High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973.

However, Justice Afridi recused himself from the instant proceedings. Last year, he had recused himself from the high treason case in special court after Musharraf’s counsel objected that being a counsel in the case relating to imposition of emergency on November 3, 2007, Justice Afridi could not hear the case. Advocate Asif, the review petitioner, pointed out that proceedings of the high treason case had come to a halt since Musharraf had not returned to the country since 2016.

During the proceedings, the bench proposed three options including Musharraf’s appearance before the trial court on next date of hearing scheduled on March 28, recording of statement through a video link or recording the statement of Counsel Salman Safdar appearing on behalf of Musharraf.  Advocate Salman Safdar, counsel appearing on behalf of Musharraf, opposed the options contending that his client was too ill to record his statement either through video link or in-person appearance.

But Chief Justice Khosa remarked, “Musharraf is in condition to appear before the court. He has been giving fine statements during Pakistan, India tension.”  He further remarked, “A suspect cannot highjack court or make it hostage and cannot be given option of trial of his own choice.” He resolved that the high treason trial would be concluded and remarked that this court was empowered under Article 187 of the Constitution for doing complete justice in any case.

He further observed that British Parliament tried and executed Oliver Cromwell in high treason after his death.  The counsel for prosecution Naseeruddin Nayyar suggested the option of sending a commission to question Musharraf. Chief Justice Khosa observed that avoiding the commission is easier and added that Musharraf would reach hospital before arrival of commission and his doctors would not even allow the commission to meet him.

He observed that recording of statement through video link was the best possible way and that Musharraf could give statement from rest bed. During the course of hearing, the bench was informed that government had previously tried to extradite Musharraf but it was unable to do so. The chief justice also questioned: “Is the court helpless if an accused is not appearing deliberately in the court.” He further observed that government had its own priorities but the top court’s priority was only supremacy of the law.

He further hinted that if special court failed to take a decision on next date of hearing then this court will decide the matter.

The court adjourned the hearing until April 1.