ATC reserves judgment on Sehba’s plea
RAWALPINDI, Sept 29: An Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) of Rawalpindi on Saturday reserved its judgment on the application filed by former first lady Sehba Musharraf, against declaring her husband proclaimed offender in Benazir Bhutto (BB) assassination case and starting the process for confiscation of his property.
ATC in August last year after declaring the former president Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf a proclaimed offender in BB assassination case, attached his moveable and immovable properties and seized his 11 bank accounts.
The court had proceeded under Section 88 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for the attachment of the properties — a farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, a plot in Singhar Housing Colony, Gwadar — and bank accounts mentioned in a letter of the State Bank of Pakistan, dated June 23, 2011.
Mrs Musharraf in September last year through her lawyer Fawad Chaudhry challenged the court order for declaring her husband a proclaimed offender and requested to release the attached properties to her.
She, however, replaced the lawyer after Fawad Chaudhry joined the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and engaged Ilyas Siddiqui to argue the case.
During the hearing, her lawyer told the court that the exercise for declaring Musharraf a proclaimed offender and confiscation of his property had been conducted in haste without considering the facts.
It has been settled by the Apex Court of Pakistan that a person could not be declared absconder for the purpose of issuing proclamation under Section 87 of the CrPC, if he had already left the country, he added.
He claimed that all the proceedings against Musharraf were unlawful, without jurisdiction and against the principle of natural justice.
Mr Siddiqui pointed out that Islamabad High Court (IHC) in October last year admitted the petition for regular hearing regarding the ownership of the Chak Shahzad farmhouse and the court after hearing the arguments of Mrs Musharraf’s lawyer had issued a stay order in this matter.
According to the petition, Mr Musharraf resigned from the office of the president on August 18, 2008, and remained involved in social and family chores till March, 2009.
He kept travelling in and out of Pakistan and during all this time not a word was said by anybody about his involvement in the high-profile murder case.
It was said that the court committed an error wherein the titles of the above referred properties were not examined carefully.
As a matter of fact, the farmhouse in Chak Shahzad belongs to the petitioner and the order for their attachment was liable to be withdrawn on this ground.
Out of 11 bank accounts, 4 are the joint accounts of Mr and Mrs Musharraf, and the court could not freeze these accounts, he added.
Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, FIA special prosecutor told the court that freezing of all the 11 bank accounts was legal as Mrs Musharraf
was a housewife, and was dependent on her husband.
He said that Musharraf owned Rs110 million in 11 bank accounts, including the 4 joint accounts and being a housewife, it was not possible for Mrs Musharraf to arrange such a huge amount on her own, adding that, during the hearing, her lawyer never disclosed her source of income other than her husband.
He pointed out that being a proclaimed offender, Mr Musharraf would not be entitled for any relief unless he would surrender before any court of competent jurisdiction.
He contended that Mrs Musharraf was seeking relief for a fugitive and in the light of various judgments of superior judiciary her petition was not maintainable.