Pak court quashes Musharraf's death penalty; declares special tribunal's ruling 'unconstitutional'
The Lahore High Court bench, which was hearing Musharraf's petitions against the verdict, also ruled that the treason case against the former President was not prepared in accordance with the law. The move leads to the annulment of his death penalty by a special tribunal.
In a major relief for Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday declared the formation of a special court -- which heard the high treason case against him and handed him a death sentence – as “unconstitutional”.
The LHC bench, which was hearing Musharraf's petitions against the verdict, also ruled that the treason case against the former President was not prepared in accordance with the law. The move leads to the annulment of his death penalty by the special tribunal.
The special court of Islamabad on December 17 handed down the death penalty to 74-year-old Musharraf after six years of hearing the high-profile treason case against him. The case was filed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in 2013.
Subsequently, Musharraf had approached the LHC with three petitions, filed earlier this month.
He had challenged not only the conviction but also the formation of the special court that handed him the death penalty, as well as the complaint filed against him by the government of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that resulted in the trial.
The Lahore High Court bench comprising Justices Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Mohammad Ameer Bhatti and Chaudhry Masood Jahangir unanimously declared the formation of the special court against Musharraf as "unconstitutional".
"The Lahore High Court has declared unconstitutional all actions right from initiation of complaint and its conclusion against General (retd.) Musharraf by the special court," said Additional Attorney General of Pakistan Ishtiaq A. Khan.
"Gen Musharraf is a freeman now," he added.
Khan earlier told the bench that the special court was constituted without the formal approval of the Cabinet. He also maintained that the charges filed against Musharraf were flimsy since, under the emergency powers of the executive, fundamental rights could be suspended.
Musharraf -- who has been in Dubai in “self-exile” for the last five years or so -- hailed the court's decision. The ailing retired general also said his health is improving.
Earlier, the special court had also ordered that corpse of the former military ruler should be dragged to Parliament and hang for three days if he dies before his execution.
Prime Minister Imran Khan's government became furious over the ruling and said it will move to the Supreme Judicial Council to unseat the "mentally unfit" head of the special court.
The verdict of the special court had also angered the powerful Army, which said the ruling was against all human, religious and civilizational values.
"An ex-Army Chief, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee and President of Pakistan, who has served the country for over 40 years, fought wars for the defense of the country can surely never be a traitor," Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor had said after the special court's ruling.
The PML-N government had filed the treason case against the former Army chief in 2013 over the imposition of an extra-constitutional emergency in November 2007, which led to the confinement of a number of superior court judges in their houses and sacking of over 100 judges.
Musharraf ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008.