Musharraf not bound to appear before SC: experts
* Justice (r) Rafique Tarar says case is not a criminal one
* AK Dogar says appearance favourable for Musharraf, he could be tried under treason law in future
By Rana Tanveer
LAHORE: It is not mandatory for former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf to appear before the Supreme Court (SC) in pursuance of its notice for July 29, legal experts said on Wednesday.
They said Musharraf should respond positively to defend his actions by appearing before the court in person or through a counsel.
Not criminal: Former president Justice (r) Rafique Tarar said Musharraf was not bound to appear before the SC, as it was not a criminal case. He said the court had fulfilled its responsibility by giving him a chance to defend himself. He said Musharraf could appear voluntarily, as the court cannot compel him to attend the proceedings. He said the court could initiate ex parte proceedings against him if he did not pursue the case.
However, he said if Musharraf did not defend himself now, he would lose the right to challenge the court’s decision after the ex parte proceedings. Tarar said that like Raza Shah Pehlvi of Iran, Musharraf would not attend the proceedings.
Justice (r) Wajihuddin said the court might not issue a must-show notice to Musharraf since he had not been made the direct respondent in the case. He said the former president was not bound to attend court proceedings in person or through his counsel.
Former federal law minister SM Masood said it was debatable whether a former military general could be summoned for his actions during service. He said if the apex court had summoned him, he was ethically bound to attend court proceedings. He said as Musharraf had been defending his acts of November 3 in India and other countries during his speeches, he should appear before the SC and defend himself. He said a must-appear notice could create chaos in the country, as the army had never let its former heads down. Masood said the country was already facing multiple problems and could not afford new ones.
Better safe: Constitutional expert AK Dogar said the case in which the SC had issued a notice to Musharraf was of civil nature. In such cases, it is not mandatory for the respondent to appear before the court, he said. He said even if Musharraf did not appear or present himself through a counsel, it would not be in violation of the SC orders.
He said the court could only hold ex parte proceedings against him if he did not pursue the case. He said it would be favourable for Musharraf to defend himself, adding that he could be tried under the treason law in the future.
However, Lahore High Court Bar Association President Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal said it was mandatory for Musharraf to respond to the court notice. She said as the court had called him through a counsel, he must at least send a counsel to defend himself. She said if he did not attend court proceedings, the court could adopt coercive measures to summon him.