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Deposing judges was constitutional, legal: Musharraf

July 24, 2009 14:13 IST

Facing summons from the Pakistan Supreme Court on deposing over 60 members of judiciary during his tenure, former President Pervez Musharraf has said the action taken by him was absolutely 'constitutional and legal'.

In an interview to Karan Thapar on his Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN, he said, 'What happened after that was bad and that lead to lot of turmoil in Pakistan, certainly. But if you say whether that was a mistake? No. I took action which was absolutely constitutional and legal.'

'A reference coming to me through the Ministry of Law, through the Prime Minister -- the President constitutionally is obliged to take action on it. And I took absolutely legal and constitutional action, when I forwarded it to the Supreme Judicial Council,' he said.

Asked if he stood by his decision to dismiss the chief justice, he said, 'Absolutely. It was the court, which had to decide whether the reference sent by the Prime Minister to the President, and the President sends it constitutionally to the Supreme Judicial Council and it is the Supreme Judicial Council which had to decide.'

He, however, conceded that the handling of the situation was shabby. 'Yes, the handling I would say was shabby. Handling of the Chief Justice was shabby,' Musharraf said.

Musharraf, however, said he was not to blame himself for the situation. 'No, I don't blame myself because I don't get into the nitty gritty of which Deputy Superintendent of

Police was rude to him, some cars were taken or some thing of that sort. Now I am not passing such orders at all.'

Asked if he thought people under him let him down, he said, 'Well, it was not merely the handling of the Chief Justice, it was the politicisation of the lawyers movement which did the damage and that was where the political parties entered the fray, came onto the streets, supported the lawyers and that was when things started going wrong.'

The Pakistan Supreme Court has asked the former President to appear before it and issued notice to him to explain his action of imposing emergency in November 2007 and deposing over 60 members of the country's superior judiciary.

A 14-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry issued the notice while reviewing a decision made by Musharraf's hand-picked judges that validated the emergency and the sacking of the judges.

The bench asked Musharraf to appear in person or through counsel on July 29, the date for the next hearing of the matter.

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