Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Monday began hearing several petitions seeking former military ruler Pervez Musharraf's trial for treason for subverting the constitution and declaring an emergency in 2007.
Hours before the hearing began this morning, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary withdrew himself from the three-judge bench that was formed last week to take up the petitions seeking the prosecution of Musharraf under the High Treason (Punishment) Act of 1973.
Chaudhry withdrew from the bench after questions were raised about his impartiality in view of the fact that he was one of the dozens of judges deposed by Musharraf during the 2007 emergency. The petitions were taken up by a two-judge bench led by Justice Jawad S Khwaja. The main petition by Taufiq Asif, a senior leader of the Rawalpindi High Court Bar Association, seeks Musharraf's trial for treason for imposing emergency.
On Friday, another petition was filed by Ahsanuddin Sheikh, a former president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, that asked the apex court to direct the government to prosecute Musharraf under the High Treason (Punishment) Act. Yet another petition against Musharraf was filed by Iqbal Haider.
The petitions have named Musharraf and the government as respondents. The petitioners also asked the apex court to direct the government to take Musharraf into custody. The petitioners contended that Musharraf had obstructed access to justice by detaining the judges during the 2007 emergency and by substituting them with judges who were appointed unconstitutionally.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March after nearly four years of self-exile to lead his All Pakistan Muslim League party in the May 11 general election. His nomination papers for three parliamentary seats in Karachi, Kasur and Islamabad have been rejected. However, his papers for another seat in Chitral were accepted.