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Musharraf's non-appearance annoys special court

08 February, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: The Special Court showed annoyance over the non-appearance of former dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf on Friday and ordered him to ensure his appearance before it on February 18 or his non-bailable warrants would be issued.

A three-member special court, headed by Justice Faisal Arab and comprising Justice Tahira Safdar and Justice Yawar Ali, while hearing the high treason case exempted the former dictator from appearance till February 18 after his lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan gave an assurance that he would produce his client before the court on the said date.

"I personally assured the court that my client would appear before the court on February 18," Anwar Mansoor said.

The court, however, warned Anwar Mansoor that if he failed to produce his client before it on February 18, his client's non-bailable arrest warrants would be issued.

Dr Tariq Hassan from the prosecution side requested the court to issue non-bailable warrants of the accused as he had contemptuously defied the court orders and could not turn up at the court.

Justice Faisal Arab, however, ruled if the accused did not come, his surety would be forfeited. "We will pass an appropriate order during the course of the day," Justice Faisal Arab said.

Pervez Musharraf has been under treatment in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) since Jan 2 when he developed heart problem on way to the court.

The court on January 31 refused to grant him permission to go abroad for medical treatment and issued his bailable warrant ordering him to appear before it on February 7. However, the former president filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the decision.

Later, the Registrar of the Special Court, Abdul Ghani, announced the court order at the Federal Shariat Court building in the evening.

In its order, the court ruled that on the last date of hearing, it issued bailable warrant for arrest of the accused, which were served upon the accused. One Gen (retd) Rashid Qureshi, son of Muzaffar-ud-din Qureshi, stood surety and undertook that the accused would appear before the court on all the dates of hearing.

The court ruled that the other day an application (Crl M No 5/2014) was moved on behalf of the accused and sought withdrawal of the process whereby bailable warrant for his arrest were issued on the ground that the Section 4 of the Pakistan Army Act 1952 ousts the jurisdiction of this court to entertain the present complaint.

On Friday, the court ruled that another application (Crl M No 6/2014) was filed for dispensing with the presence of the accused till the miscellaneous applications bearing No 3, 4 and 6 of 2013 were decided.

"When we took up the Crl M Application Nos 5/2014 and 6/2014 for hearing Anwar Mansoor Khan read out the contents of these applications and contended if this court came to the conclusion that it had no jurisdiction then by reading out the statement of charges to the accused would cause great humiliation to him not only in Pakistan but also abroad as he had held the position of the President of Pakistan and Chief of the Army Staff," says the order.

The court ruled that it pointed out to Anwar Mansoor Khan that in the application seeking an exemption no material had been placed to establish inability of the accused to appear before this court.

It was made clear that an accused in a case had every right to call in question the jurisdiction of a court if he made out a case but non-appearance would amount to disobedience of the process of the court, the order said, adding that in the case in hand it had already been held vide order dated January 31, 2014 that the accused had not presented any plausible explanation for his absence.

The court ruled that it was also pointed out that even the surety who undertook to ensure the presence of the accused in the court had also not appeared which by itself called for forfeiture of the surety amount and issuance of non-bailable warrant for the arrest of the accused.

Anwar Mansoor, however, made a statement at the bar that he personally undertook that the accused would appear before this court along with the surety in the week after next as the accused had no hesitation on his appearance except that he felt that this court had no jurisdiction in the matter.

Dr Tariq Hassan from the prosecution side, however, in response to the statement of Anwar Mansoor submitted that this court had already shown sufficient indulgence to the accused though the law provided that where the accused failed to appear in terms of the bailable warrant, non-bailable warrant should be issued.

The accused and his surety have failed to fulfil the terms and conditions of the bond, therefore are liable to be dealt with under sections 92 and 514 CrPC.

The court ruled in its order that in view of the undertaking given by Anwar Mansoor Khan, this court opted not to exercise the power available under Section 92 CrPC and give an opportunity to the accused to make his appearance before this court on February 18, 2014.

The court directed that General (retd) Rashid Qureshi, the surety, would also appear in the court along with the accused on February 18, 2014 and disposed of the Crl Miscellaneous Application Nos 5 and 6 of 2014.

During the proceedings, the court ordered Anwar Mansoor Khan that during the course of the next week, he should complete the hearing on pending miscellaneous applications that had been filed on behalf of the accused and were pending adjudication.

Anwar Mansoor Khan, however, submitted that he would be out of the country for one week and would return on February 16, 2014 and in the meanwhile Crl M No 6/2013 would be argued by Dr Khalid Ranjha on the next date wherein the jurisdiction of this court had been challenged on the ground that the trial in the present case was liable to be proceeded under the provisions of the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

He further submitted that as regards the remaining hearing on Crl M No3/2013, he would argue the same when the case would be fixed for hearing in the week after next.

Meanwhile, the court fixed the hearing on Crl M No 6/2013 as well as Crl M No 4/2013 for February 10, 2014 at 9:30am and adjourned the hearing.

End.

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