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Summons to Musharraf

Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday summoned the former President, Pervez Musharraf, in a case relating to the validity of his November 3, 2007 Emergency and the subsequent sacking of the court’s judges.

Since Monday, a 14-judge bench has daily taken up the case, which is expected to have far-reaching ramifications. The court, which had earlier said it wished to finish the case by Friday, has posted the next hearing for July 29.

There was no immediate reaction from General (retired) Musharraf. He has not returned to Pakistan since leaving the country a couple of months back. He is based these days in London where he is reported to have bought an apartment in a nice neighbourhood.

Reports said he need not present himself before court, and could send his lawyer instead. The former Attorney-General, Malik Qayum, who spent a lot of his time in office defending the Emergency, told journalists he was ready to defend the ex-President if asked.

The actual petition, filed by the Sindh High Court Bar Association, relates to the non-confirmation of the appointments of two judges of the court. They were among the 60 judges purged from the superior judiciary when the Emergency was imposed.

They had been appointed in 2007, and when the time for their regularisation came up in 2008, they were not confirmed.

Basis

The basis for denying them their confirmation was a February 2008 ruling by Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar — appointed by General Musharraf after his sacking of Mr. Chaudhary in the Emergency — validating the Emergency and all actions under it, and pronouncing the issue of the sacked judges as a “past and closed” transaction.

In its observations, the bench hearing the SHCBA petition has indicated it is inclined to revisit the Tikka Iqbal case in which Mr. Dogar gave the infamous judgment.

In an indication of the widening scope of the case, during the daily hearings, the judges have also been critical about the non-compliance of the court’s judgment in its dying hours on that fateful November afternoon.

Minutes before the court was purged, a seven-member bench passed an order that the emergency was unconstitutional and no judge of the court should acquiesce in it by taking an oath of office under the “provisional constitutional order” that replaced the Constitution as the law of the land. The bench also ruled that any fresh appointments of judges would be considered illegal.

But there were judges who broke ranks, and were sworn in under the PCO. Some of them are also in the Supreme Court, though not on this particular bench. They are still known as “PCO judges” even though once the Emergency was revoked, they retook their oath of office under the 1973 Constitution.

The bench has been scathing in its observations. One of the judges even remarked that the PCO judges may have thought that retaking the oath under the Constitution was like “bathing with Lux to get rid of dirt”.

As it progresses, it seems the case could shake up judiciary

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