Supreme Court upholds former president Pervez Musharraf's death sentence in treason case

Top court throws out Musharraf's appeal against death sentence, declares LHC judgment "null and void"

Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. — AFP/File
Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. — AFP/File

  • 4-member bench declares Musharraf's appeal ineffective. 
  • SC declares LHC verdict suspending sentence "null and void". 
  • Musharraf's heirs didn't follow case even on multiple notices: SC.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf's death sentence awarded to him by a special court in 2019 in a "high treason case".

A four-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Athar Minallah conducted the hearing. 

On December 17, 2019, a special court awarded the death sentence to the former ruler under Article 6 of the Constitution after a case of high treason was filed against him during Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) tenure for his "unconstitutional" decision to impose an emergency in November 2007.

On Jan 13, 2020, the Lahore High Court (LHC) declared the verdict, given by the special court formed to hear the high treason case under Article 6, "unconstitutional".

Following this, the LHC verdict was challenged by the Pakistan Bar Council and several senior lawyers including Taufeeq Asif. 

The court today announced the reserved verdict on the appeal filed by the former ruler against the death sentence which was handed to him and declared it ineffective for non-compliance. 

"Pervez Musharraf's heirs did not follow the case even on multiple notices," the SC remarked while rejecting the former president's appeal.

Musharraf's counsel, Salman Safdar, said that he tried contacting Musharraf's family after the court decided to hear the appeal but the family never responded to him.

The court also declared LHC's judgment "null and void" and remarked that the LHC's decision was against the law.

The top court's decision came despite the military ruler's passing away on February 5, 2023.

Today's hearing

During the hearing today, Hamid Khan, who represented Asif, told the court that Musharraf filed an appeal against the sentence which is a criminal appeal.

Meanwhile, Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman said that he opposed Musharraf's appeal.

The court, after hearing the arguments, reserved the verdict.

In the previous hearing on November 29, 2023, the top court observed that all those, including the judges, who validated the martial law imposed by Musharraf on October 12, 1999, should be held accountable.

Justice Minallah had also remarked that the judges who validated the imposition of martial law by Musharraf in 1999 should also be tried.

The chief justice had observed that “we should learn from our history” adding that “even if someone was not punished for abrogating the Constitution, at least one should admit that what was done in the past was wrong.”

The chief justice further observed that the primary aspect was recognition of the wrongdoing and everyone should at least accept that a wrong had been done in the past.

Justice Minallah had remarked that one should speak the truth and the truth was that the judges who validated the martial law should also be tried and given a fair trial.

Musharraf case heard in his absence: lawyer

Speaking to media persons after the announcement of the verdict, Safdar said that Musharraf's appeal was heard for the fourth time today even though it was pending in court for four years.

"No criminal case can be prosecuted in the absence of the accused and Musharraf's case was heard in his absence," Safdar said.

The lawyer said that had Musharraf been alive today, he would have pursued the case. "His appeal was not heard when he was alive," he added.

"Pervez Musharraf never committed high treason," maintained the lawyer.