by Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: General (retd) Pervez Musharraf can be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution for his November 3, 2007 action as well as for his October 12, 1999 martial law, but the 18th Amendment gives constitutional cover to the PCO oath taken by superior court judges in 2000.
Although the 2008 parliament scrapped certain parts of the 17th Amendment passed by Musharraf’s parliament in 2004, the 18th Amendment endorses the indemnity of the oath of judges under PCO taken in 2000.
Therefore, as per the Constitution Musharraf could be tried for high treason for twice abrogating the Constitution, once in October 1999 and again in November 2007, but the judges who had taken oath under Musharraf’s PCO in 2000 are protected by the pre as well as post 18th Amendment Constitution.
Musharraf’s 12 October 1999 martial law, which was indemnified by the 2002-2007 Parliament under dictator’s rule, did not get the 2008-2013 parliament’s endorsement but the dictator’s consequent actions including the oath of judges in 2000 under the PCO got complete constitutional protection in the 18th amendment.
Those media commentators, politicians and opponents of the present independent judiciary, who are desirous of dragging others including the PCO judges of the 2000 PCO, in the high treason case are making an unconstitutional demand. The 18th amendment despite having declared the 2000 PCO as unlawful protected the superior court judges, who had taken the said oath, through 270AA (3), which reads as:
Judges of the Supreme Court, High Courts and Federal Shariat Court who were holding the office of a judge or were appointed as such, and had taken oath under the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 (I of 2000), shall be deemed to have continued to hold the office as a judge or appointed as such, as the case may be, under the Constitution, and such continuance or appointment, shall have effect accordingly;
Judges of the Supreme Court, High Courts and Federal Shariat Court who not having been given or taken oath under the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000, (I of 2000), and ceased to hold the office of a Judge shall, for the purposes of pensionary benefits only, be deemed to have continued to hold office under the Constitution till their date of superannuation.”
Musharraf’s parliament through its 17th Amendment, had validated/indemnified the October 1999 martial law of Musharraf besides giving constitutional protection to all other president’s orders, ordinances, chief executive’s orders, including the Provisional Constitution Order No. 1 of 1999, the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 (No. 1 of 2000), Chief Executive’s Order No. 12 of 2002, the amendments made in the Constitution through the Legal Framework Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No. 24 of 2002), the Legal Framework (Amendment) Order , 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No. 29 of 2002), the Legal Framework (Second Amendment) Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No. 32 of 2002) and all other laws made between October 12, 1999 and the date on which Article 270AA was inserted by Musharraf’s parliament in 2004.
As the previous parliament could not completely scrap the 17th Amendment, therefore, it gave partial indemnity to all presidential orders, laws etc that justified the consequential actions of Musharraf’s first martial law. The 18th Amendment also did not indemnify the November 3, 2007 action of Musharraf but gave constitutional cover to the general elections of February 2008 as announced by the former dictator.