The Supreme Court is expected to resume from Oct 1 the hearing of a government appeal that will determine whether retired General Pervez Musharraf – who is currently on trial for treason – can go abroad to see his ailing mother.
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A five-judge bench, consisting of Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Ejaz Afzal, will hear the government challenge against the Sindh High Court (SHC) order of June 12, which ordered that Musharraf’s name be removed from the Exit Control List (ECL).
The appeal was hurriedly filed by the government on June 14, which challenged the high court order on the apprehension that once Musharraf leaves the country, he is unlikely to come back to stand trial under Article 6 of the Constitution. At the last hearing, held on June 23, the Supreme Court had suspended the high court judgment until it delivered a verdict on the appeal and also formulated a set of questions to determine whether the former president could be allowed to leave the country without modifying its earlier verdict.
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On April 8 last year, the Supreme Court had issued directives to the government to place Musharraf’s name on the ECL and ensure that he does not leave the country until the order was varied or modified. Pleading the government appeal in the fresh case, Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt had argued at the time that the government was merely following the Supreme Court’s orders of April 8.
The apex court explained that it granted leave to appeal on the government petition to consider whether the April 8 order was not an interim order, because it had been merged into the final order of July 3, 2013. Secondly, the SHC could have struck down the office memorandum of April 5, 2013, that placed the former military ruler’s name on the ECL, issued in compliance with the March 29, 2013, high court order duly reaffirmed by the Supreme Court on April 8. Thirdly, the questionnaire asked whether Musharraf could be permitted to leave the country without modification or reversal of the April 8 order of the Supreme Court.
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And lastly the memorandum, having been passed in compliance with the order of the high court, was not covered by Rule 2(f) of the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Rules, 2010. Meanwhile, Taufiq Asif, a former president of the Rawalpindi chapter of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, moved a similar petition, arguing that the April 8 order still holds and has never been varied in any manner by the Supreme Court. However, the petitioner contended that Gen Musharraf moved his petition, which was entertained by the SHC despite there being no change in the SC order.