Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday approved the names of three judges for the special court to try former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf  for high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution.

Official sources said the names were approved strictly on the basis of seniority. Of the five names, Mr. Sharif decided on Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh high court who as the senior most will be the head of the special court. Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan high court and justice Yawaar Ali of the Lahore high court will be the other two members. The government has also notified the special court.

The trial is expected to start soon, said the sources. On Sunday the government had announced that it would initiate proceedings for high treason against Mr Musharraf for imposing emergency on November 3, 2007 and for putting the Constitution in abeyance.  Earlier in the day the five high courts had sent names of judges for the special court.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a media conference on Sunday that the government would appoint a special public prosecutor to conduct the proceedings. A four member team of the Federal Investigation Agency(FIA) which was constituted to probe the imposition of emergency, the detention  of judges and holding the Constitution in abeyance by Mr Musharraf had submitted its report on November 16.

The government wrote to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to ask for names from all the five high courts to form three judge panel on Monday. Mr. Khan had said this was not an act of personal enmity but the General had violated tenets of the Constitution and is answerable for that. He had ill treated lawyers and manhandled them and all this was illegal and violative of the Constitution. No one could pardon Mr Musharraf for his crimes, he added.

In June the federal government had informed the Supreme Court  that it had asked the director general FIA to set up a special team to inquire into the emergency imposed by Mr Musharraf on November 3, 2007.  This was after the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated in the National Assembly that the government would proceed against the former President on the basis of Article 6 of the Constitution.

Under Article 6 , “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.” The Parliament shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason.

The Supreme Court had in July 2009 declared Mr Musharraf’s decision to impose emergency as unconstitutional and illegal. It disposed of some petitions which sought the filing of charges of high treason against Mr Musharraf and put the onus on the government to make its move.