Muharraf to lose defense right if not appears on May 2, in high treason case: SC

ISLAMABAD:The Supreme Court’s bench, hearing the high treason case, Monday ordered the special court to announce its judgment on basis of available evidences produced by the prosecution side if former president Pervaiz Musharraf failed to appear on May 2.

The bench ordered that ‘Musharraf would lose right of defense in this case on nonappearance on next hearing.’

The top court ordered that former dictator wouldn’t be entitled to record his statement under section 342 if didn’t attend court proceeding. However, if the accused appeared on next hearing, he would be provided all facilities to present his defense, it further stated.

A three member bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa announced its reserved order after a short break on a high treason case proceeding against former president Pervaiz Musharraf.

Earlier, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Asif Saeed asked Musharraf’s counsel whether the accused had given any assurance regarding his return. What would be next option if the accused didn’t fulfill his commitment, he inquired.

Musharraf’s counsel Suleman Safdar pleaded that his client wanted to appear before court to record his statement. He said that Musharraf had given May 13, a date regarding his return.

The CJP remarked that the court wouldn’t let the accused exploit the situation by not appearing before the court deliberately, adding that high treason was not an ordinary case.

The prosecutor argued that the court had framed charges against the accused in his presence. The former president had earlier given assurance to appear before the court if summoned.

CJP Khosa observed that the federal government itself allowed Musharraf to travel abroad and didn’t take measures to get him back. The government itself made the matter so complex, the CJP further maintained.

The CJP noted that a special court had already decided in 2016 that ‘the trial against Musharraf couldn’t be move forward in his absence.’ The government didn’t challenge the decision of the special court, he stated, adding that the government carried itself to a close street.

The petitioner Ahsanuddin Sheikh stated that former government of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) had given safe passage to Musharraf through an NRO. He prayed the court to use powers under Article 187 of the Constitution.

Musharraf’s counsel stated that his client had never been arrested rather he was allowed by the government to travel abroad by admitting his health situation. The government itself took this case as easy.

Chief Justice observed that a medical report may be produced on May 2, instead of Musharraf’s appearance.

After a short break, the court ordered to continue trial in absence of Musharraf if he failed to appear on May 2. The bench ordered that ‘the accused wouldn’t be entitled to present his defense in case of nonappearance.

The former president became absconder during the trial process, the court observed, adding that there was no need to record accused’s statement under section 342 if he failed to appear. The bench ordered the special court to announce judgment in high treason case on available evidence in the case on Musharraf’s nonappearance.