Islamabad, Sept 28: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday ruled that President General Pervez Musharraf could contest the October 6 presidential polls in uniform, leading to howls of protest from the opposition and the legal community. The apex court threw out a raft of legal challenges that argued that Musharraf was ineligible to stand for another five-year term in office in the October 6 election. Opposition supporters threw rotten eggs and tomatoes at the imposing marble court building in Islamabad and chanted "Shame! Shame!" and "Go, Musharraf, go!" after the verdict was announced.
"The petitions hereby are dismissed as not maintainable" by a 6-3 majority, said Rana Bhagwandas, the head of the panel of nine judges hearing the petitions.
Musharraf, 64, has promised to quit his military role by November 15 if he is re-elected. But he had not ruled out dissolving parliament or even imposing martial law if blocked by the court.
According to The News, six of the nine judges gave a favourable verdict, while the other three judges, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan and Justice Shakirullah Jan differed.
The decision was delayed by 75 minutes as it was scheduled to be announced at 2-15 p.m. After the decision announced, lawyers and political workers severely reacted and chanted slogans.
Earlier, Abdul Hafiz Pirzada, Jamaat-e-Islami lawyer, Ikram Sheikh, Tahrik-e-Insaf"s lawyer Hamid Khan and the attorney of the Lawyers Forum, A. K. Buttar had completed their arguments.
Abdul Hafiz Pirzada said that whosoever would be the president after November 15 would be a civilian. Arguing this he said that the law of necessity still existed. The Apex Court could give exemption to any highly placed government personality. He said that if the Court rescinded the 17th Constitutional Amendment, then the existing system would go haywire. At this juncture, Justice Rana Bhagwan Das in his remarks said, “We have buried the law of necessity."
The nine-member Bench of the Supreme Court, in which, the Chief Justice was not included, was headed by the Justice Rana Bhagwan Das, pooling together the six different petitions against the dual-office of the president, had started formal hearing of these petitions from September 17.
President"s attorney, Sharifuddin Pirzada during the hearing on September 18 told the Court that President Musharraf after his re-election would doff his uniform.
Submitting a written statement in the Court on September 19, Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada said that if the President got re-elected, then he would give up the Army slot and prior to taking oath as president doff the uniform.
Imran Khan"s lawyer, Hamid Khan on September 20 presented in the Court the particulars relating to the President Musharraf"s professional responsibilities.
Justice Javed Iqbal said on September 20 that the 17th Constitutional Amendment provided crutches to President Musharraf, not by the Supreme Court.
The nine-member larger Bench hearing the identical constitutional petitions comprised of Justice Rana Bhagwan Das, Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi, Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokar, Justice Falak Sher, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan and Justice M Javed Buttar.