Supreme Court changes anti-Musharraf petition bench


Islamabad : The pendulum in Pakistan’s Supreme Court continues to swing with a 10-member bench hearing a petition against President Pervez Musharraf’s eligibility for re-election being reconstituted and increased to 11.

Support TwoCircles

One judge of the previous bench has been dropped and two others inducted. The new bench will resume the hearing of the case on Oct 17.

The 10-member bench had last Friday refused to stay the Oct 6 presidential election. It had also barred the Election Commission from notifying the results till it gave its verdict on the petitions against Musharraf, who won a one-sided election for a second five-year term.

This is the second time that the bench has been reconstituted. Earlier, judge Mohammad Raza Khan had opted out of a 10-member bench that had been constituted after a nine-judge bench had rejected a batch of petitions against Musharraf by a six to three verdict.

Khan, one of the dissenting judges, opted out on the ground that he had already stated his views against the president, the Dawn reported Wednesday.

Headed by judge Javed Iqbal, the 10-member bench comprised judges Abdul Hameed Dogar, Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Mohammad Nawaz Abbasi, Faqir Mohammad Khokar, Tasadduq Hussain Jilani, Nasirul Mulk, Fayyaz Ahmed, Syed Jamshed Ali and Ghulam Rabbani.

Judge Nasirul Mulk is not part of the 11-member bench while judges Javed Buttar and Ijaz Ahmed have been inducted.

This, however, is not the end of the story. Soon after hearing the petitions against Musharraf on Oct 17, the bench will be reduced to seven judges to decide a contempt petition jointly moved by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz against his deportation to Saudi Arabia after his return from exile on Sep 10.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry will head this bench, which will include judges Javed Iqbal, Mohammad Raza Khan, Faqir Mohammad Khokhar, Javed Buttar, Fayyaz Ahmed and Jamshed Ali.

Chaudhry, who had been reinstated through a prolonged legal battle after Musharraf had sacked him earlier this year on corruption charges, has excused himself from all three benches hearing the petitions against Musharraf.

At its last hearing of the contempt case, the Supreme Court had directed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) chairman Zafar A. Khan and Civil Aviation Authority chief Farooq Rehmatullah for a report on what had happened at the Islamabad airport on Sep 10.

They were also asked to provide details of the aircraft that flew Sharif to Jeddah along with the directives of the authorities that had ordered the deportation.

Federal Investigation Agency director-general Tariq Pervez was directed to submit documents showing the exit stamp on Sharif’s passport when he was deported.

Sharif had gone into 10-year exile in Saudi Arabia in 2000, a year after Musharraf overthrew him in a bloodless coup. He returned on Sep 10, saying he had not agreed to any deal with Musharraf — and was promptly sent packing.