The Supreme Court of Pakistan has questioned the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision to overturn the death sentence of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

The initial death sentence was imposed by a special court in December 2019 on charges of high treason.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Qazi Faez Isa, leading a four-judge bench, expressed astonishment at the approach taken by LHC, suggesting that it may have exceeded its jurisdiction in the matter.

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“At best, the LHC could do was to allow the prayers sought in the petition, but what the court did was uprooting the special court itself,” Justice Isa said.

The special court had originally adjudicated the high treason charges against Musharraf.

A four-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Athar Minallah, and Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan conducted the hearing of the appeals of Bar Councils and others against the judgment of a three-member bench of the LHC.

The Supreme Court’s scrutiny focused on the LHC January 2020 order, which not only declared the special court’s ruling unconstitutional but also entertained Musharraf’s appeal against his death conviction.

A three-member bench of the LHC, headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and comprising Justice Muhammad Masood Jahangir and Justice Ameer Bhatti on January 13, 2020, had declared; “The Special Court was established without an iota of doubt that very basis of initiation of proceedings against the petitioner/ General (R) Pervez Musharraf, since its inception to the culmination are beyond the constitutional mandate, ultra vires, coram-non-judice, unlawful, hence, any superstructure raised over it shall fall to ground.”

It further said; “Trial in absentia is declared as illegal, unconstitutional being repugnant to injunctions of Islam, as well as, Article 2-A, 8 and 10-A of the Constitution.”

Pervez Musharraf passed away earlier this year, on February 5, after a prolonged illness.

The Supreme Court’s review also brought attention to concerns about the LHC’s territorial jurisdiction.

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah noted that the constitution of the special court was never directly challenged.

The Chief Justice cautioned against labeling Musharraf as an absconder during the hearing, as it could prejudice the ongoing appeal.

The hearing is set to continue next Tuesday.

The Supreme Court has asked the petitioner’s counsel to conclude arguments on Musharraf’s petition against the Special Court judgment.