Former Pakistan president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has on Saturday challenged the constitution of the special court for his high treason trial and demanded that it should be conducted under the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

The three member special court has summoned Musharraf on December 24. Speaking to The Hindu, his defence counsel Mohammed Ali Saif said the two basic contentions in the writ petition filed in the Islamabad high court challenged the constitution of the special court and demanded that the trial be conducted under the Army act. Mr. Saif said a trial under the High Treason (Punishment) act 1973 was illegal and unconstitutional and it cannot be conducted in any court since Musharraf was a military officer.

The petition said the special court was not competent to try Musharraf. The matter is likely to come up on Monday, he added. Last week the federal interior secretary had submitted a formal complaint to summon Musharraf in the special court along with a statement of charges. The former military dictator has been charged with issuing an unconstitutional and unlawful order on November, 3, 2007 at Rawalpindi as Chief of the Army Staff, called the “Proclamation of Emergency Order, 2007” which held the Constitution in abeyance. He subverted the Constitution and committed the offence of high treason punishable under section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 which is within the jurisdiction of the Special Court, the complaint said.

Musharraf has also been charged with issuing the Provisional Constitution Order No.1 of 2007 which empowered the President to amend the Constitution from time to time, apart from suspending Fundamental Rights enshrined in Articles 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution. He is also being charged with amending the Constitution and some of its provisions and subverting it.

The government decided to prosecute General Musharraf for high treason after a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team conducted an inquiry on the direction of the Prime Minister and submitted its report to the government last month saying there were enough grounds for a case of high treason. Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif last month had appointed three judges for the special court to try Musharraf for high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution. Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh high court who as the senior most will head the special court. Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan high court and justice Yawaar Ali of the Lahore high court are the other two members.

The petition said that the Emergency had the support of other parties who must also be tried.