Musharraf booked for judges’ house arrest


Islamabad : Acting swiftly on a court order, police here have booked former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf for ordering the house arrest of the Supreme Court judges he had sacked after declaring an emergency Nov 3, 2007.

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The “unprecedented first in Pakistan’s history” could “actually see” Musharraf land in prison “or at the minimum turn his stay abroad into a permanent exile”, The News said Tuesday.

“An ironic fate of twist for a man who once boasted that he would never allow (former prime ministers) Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto to end their exile on their own and return to Pakistan. The table stands turned on its head,” the newspaper added.

The Islamabad police registered a criminal case (FIR No 131 dated 10-08-09) under section 344/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code following the orders of the Additional Sessions Judge, Islamabad, Mohammad Akmal Khan Monday.

Khan was acting on a petition filed by advocate Mohammad Aslam Ghuman seeking action against Musharraf for ordering the confinement of the Supreme Court judges.

Sources in the interior ministry told The News that Ghuman had filed his petition some one-and-a-half months ago but despite repeated reminders, the Law Division didn’t take interest in properly pursuing the case.

The FIR states that Musharraf and others had detained the Supreme Court judges and their families at their houses and their children were neither allowed to attend school nor permitted to appear in examinations.

Judge Khan’s Monday order came 11 days after the Supreme Court July 31 held that Musharraf had acted extra-judicially, illegally and unconstitutionally in declaring an emergency and sacking the apex court judges.

A 14-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry, however, stopped short of censuring Musharraf as had been demanded in a petition the court was hearing against the declaration of the emergency.

The Supreme Court had summoned Musharraf, who is currently in London on a lecture tour, to appear before it July 29 in person or through his lawyer but he failed do so.

“Determining responsibility for the steps taken on Nov 3, 2007 is necessary,” Chaudhry observed July 22 before issuing summons.

Chaudhry, who was one of the 80-odd Supreme Court and high court judges sacked, had been reinstated in March after a bruising lawyers’ agitation.

Musharraf had sacked the higher judiciary after it refused to take fresh oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) he promulgated along with the emergency.

The emergency had been declared just as the Supreme Court was to deliver its verdict on the constitutionality of Musharraf’s re-election in October 2007.

It had been contended that the same parliament and provincial assemblies that had elected Musharraf in 2002 had re-elected him in 2007 and this was unconstitutional.