Justice Waqar Seth ‘mentally unfit’ to be a judge, govt says | Pakistan Today

Justice Waqar Seth ‘mentally unfit’ to be a judge, govt says

–Govt to move SJC for restraining and subsequently removing judge who authored detailed verdict against Gen Musharraf

–Prime Minister Imran Khan says treason verdict ‘is an attempt to create anarchy and unrest in country’

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that the special court’s detailed verdict in former military ruler General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s high treason case is an attempt to create “anarchy” and “unrest” in the country, as the federal government decided to move the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against the judge who authored the decision.

The special court convicted Musharraf of high treason and sentenced him to death on Tuesday in an unprecedented trial delayed by the absence of the septuagenarian former military ruler, who has been out of the country since 2016.

“The government will not allow any situation, which creates instability in the country or a clash between institutions, to arise,” said the prime minister while addressing a meeting of the Media Strategy Committee on Thursday.

It was decided in the meeting that the government would file a reference in the SJC against Special Court President Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth.

The legal team informed the meeting that the sentence – hanging him (Musharraf) on D-Chowk – penned by Justice Seth crossed all legal boundaries.

The legal team termed “unconstitutional”, “illegal” and “inhumane” the detailed verdict of the special court.

Announcing the government’s decision in a press conference after the meeting, Federal Minister for Law Barrister Farogh Naseem said they would approach the SJC for the restraining of and subsequent removal of Justice Seth.

The detailed written order has been widely criticised across Pakistan.

Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Seth directed for the “corpse” of the former president to be “dragged to D-Chowk” and “hanged for 3 days” in paragraph 66 of the verdict.

“I do not understand the authority under which this sort of observation was given,” Naseem said while addressing a press conference here alongside PM’s Special Assistant on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and PM’s aide on accountability, Shahzad Akbar.

Referring to a past judgement by Supreme Court Justice Naseem Hasan Shah in which the “universal declaration of human rights in Islam” had been referenced as well Article 14 which speaks of the “fundamental right of the dignity of man” was invoked, the law minister said that it was ruled that public hangings are in contravention to the Constitution and Islam.

“There is no room in Article 6 of the Constitution; in the High Treason Act, 1973; in the Criminal Amendment Act of the special court, 1976; for a judge to have the authority to present such an observation,” said Naseem.

“With due respect, this is an unprecedented, despicable and completely wrong observation by the judge.”

The law minister then spoke of Article 209 under which the attorney general had announced his intention for a trial against the judge.

He said that Article 209 comes into effect when there is misconduct due to “incompetence” or when there is “questionable mental capacity”.

“In Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s time ‘incompetence’ was added to the SJC rules as grounds for misconduct,” said the minister.

“Keeping in view Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth’s observations, the federal government has decided to approach the Supreme Judicial Council and file a request stating that such a judge has no authority to be a judge of a high court or the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is unfit.

“When such observations are given, not only is the court’s privilege tarnished, it becomes a test for the administration of justice.

“Our request is, because he has proven himself to be mentally unfit and incompetent, he must immediately be prevented from working. We request the Supreme Court judges to restrain him from any administrative or judicial work,” said the law minister.

Naseem said that any judge giving such observations is not only acting against the law but is proving himself to be counterproductive to the confidence that one must have in the judiciary.

“Very soon we will move a reference against the judge in the Supreme Judicial Council under Article 209,” he concluded by saying.