Pervez Musharraf's Death Penalty Quashed by Lahore High Court; Bench That Heard Treason Case Declared 'Unconstitutional'
General Pervez Musharraf | File Image | (Photo Credits: ANI)

Lahore, January 13: The death penalty issued to former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was quashed on Monday by the Lahore High Court. The bench headed by Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi overturned a lower court's order, claiming that neither the complaint was filed under due constitutional provisions nor was the bench mandated to slap death penalty against ex-military ruler.

Justice Naqvi, in his verdict, stated that the formation of the special court to hear "treason" charges against Musharraf was itself "unconstitutional". The HC noted that imposition of emergency by Musharraf in 2007, though an alleged arbitrary measure, cannot amount to sedition -- which warrants a maximum penalty of death in Pakistan.

“An emergency is part of the Constitution. If a situation emerges, and the government imposes emergency, so would the government be also tried under a treason case?" questioned the Lahore HC bench.

Musharraf, who faced a treason trial in absentia since 2014, was booked for his decision to impose a national emergency in 2007. The prosecution was sanctioned under the government of former Prime Minister and Musharraf's arch-rival Nawaz Sharif. Throughout the course of trial, Musharraf remained away from Pakistan. When the death penalty was announced, the 76-year-old was undergoing medical treatment in Dubai.

The special court, which sentenced Musharraf to death in December last year, had drawn flak from the Imran Khan government as well as the Pakistani armed forces. The judgment, said the Pakistan Army, was "totally unacceptable" to them as a former head of the armed forces cannot be considered as a traitor.

The civilian government in Islamabad questioned the sanity of Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, who was heading the three-member bench which ordered capital punishment for Musharraf. The judgment written by Justice Seth had went on to state that if Musharraf dies before he is hanged, then his "corpse must be hanged in public" for three days. Citing the order copy, judicial analysts in Pakistan suspected whether the bench wanted to "extract revenge" from the ex-President.