Tag Archives: partisan

Judicial supremacy or Judicial dictatorship?

By Khaled Ahmed

We have to wait till the Chief Justice and his fellow judges overreach themselves and finally come to the conclusion that moderation is the only path to tread in this imperfect Third World environment

On 7 July, 2012, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said that Article 8 of the constitution empowered the Supreme Court to strike down any legislation which encroached upon the basic rights of the citizens. He said this while speaking at a ceremony for newly enrolled advocates at the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry.

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Sheikh Rashid, ex-minister & now Imran Khan’s ally, exhorts Iftikhar Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan, to “kill” President Zardari

Courtesy: Duniya Tv » YouTube

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Kindness of Supreme Court – Realistic Voice

By: Humza Ikram

Excerpts;

….. But in contrast to the hopeful symptoms, when I listen to the constitutional experts, none of them is optimistic. All are arguing that in the presence of SC’s judgment expecting something different is reckless because the previous decision was given by 17 judges, but now the bench has been reduced to mere five, so it is impossible to defy the verdict of 17 over 5.

In this regard, Former CJ, Saeed u Zaman Siddiqui says there cannot be any change possible in the previous judgment; they eventually have to write the letter, there is no possibility of any other option. And then we heard another remark from the CJ to the public exclaiming that whatever the court has said, it will happen, nothing can be done against it. It seems as if he is dictating the Supreme Court sitting bench.

After listening all of them, it is obvious that there is no option left for the Government to provide any middle way, then why the Supreme Court has done this gag with the nation? Aren’t they aware of it? What was the need of giving 15 days hope to the nation? If it was not just a gag from the SC, then now it is the responsibility of Supreme Court to offer a possible solution. So, after a lot of contemplation that what will be the Government’s stance on 8th of August, seeing the evident thinking of CJ. There is no other possible way for the Attorney General that in spite of submitting any argument in the court, he should straight away sing a famous song from Dillip Kumar’s golden film Devdas before the honorable court:

Continue reading Kindness of Supreme Court – Realistic Voice

PAKISTAN PERISCOPE – The case of exploding lawsuits

As the Supreme Court ups the ante against the new prime minister, the battle between various stakeholders in Pakistan is likely to get intense

By: Ayesha Siddiqa Independent Social Scientist

Excerpts

…. the most challenging act seems to be the case against Chief Justice Iftikhar’s son Arsalan Iftikhar. Allegedly, Arsalan blackmailed real estate tycoon Malik Riaz into paying him more than PKR 36 crore in bribe for getting favourable judgments in cases being heard in the Supreme Court. Although nothing has been definitely proven against him as yet, the glitterati of Lahore talk about Arsalan’s extravagant lifestyle, which comes as a surprise since he didn’t have a job three years ago. The Chief Justice comes from a humble background and claims to have no property, a statement that adds to the complexity of his son’s fortune. Riaz, who is considered as being close to both the military and Zardari, has continued to point fingers at Arsalan, his father and the entire family for extorting money and favours out of him.

The Arsalan-Riaz case is now being heard by the Supreme Court and probed independently by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising members from the country’s prime anti-fraud agency, the National Accountability Bureau, the Islamabad Police and the Federal Investigation Agency. Clearly, this is a card in the government’s hand that Chief Justice Iftikhar and his team of close aides seem to try to destroy by casting aspersions on the JIT’s credibility. It is not a coincidence that after every hearing by the JIT, there is an effort by the pro-Chief Justice wing of a certain media group to point fingers at the credibility of JIT. The effort increases around every hearing by the court or the investigating team.

The yet-to-be-proven case of extortion and the players involved in it make the head spin at the complexity of the case. According to sources, Riaz, who is reputed to be an “ISI asset”, could not have taken the risk of so brutally challenging the Chief Justice without taking the security establishment on board. The question is how does one juxtapose this assumption against another that the higher judiciary has the army’s support to destabilise the government?

Continue reading PAKISTAN PERISCOPE – The case of exploding lawsuits

Dictators and the Supreme Court

by: Mohammad Khan Sial

SINDH – KARACHI: The attorney general of Pakistan told a five-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on August 2, that the Supreme Court has always exonerated military dictators by targeting democratic governments. The attorney general’s comments are based on facts irrespective of intentions. I would humbly suggest that all the judges who have validated military dictatorships in the past should be tried for their decisions under Article 6 of the Constitution.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/417939/dictators-and-the-supreme-court/

Senator Faisal Raza Abidi demands Chief Justice’s resignation

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By Sidrah Moiz Khan

Abidi held Justice Chaudhry responsible for the alleged financial impropriety done by his son, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar

While hurling fiery allegations at Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Faisal Raza Abidi on Sunday demanded a resignation from him and other judges who were reinstated under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).

During a press conference in Islamabad, Abidi held Justice Chaudhry responsible for the alleged financial impropriety done by his son, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar.

The senator said that if the chief justice does not tender a resignation, then he will “force him out from the same way he had been restored as a judge.”

“He [Justice Chaudhry] says that he did not have any idea where his son got all that money from…I ask, when the case emerged, did you ask him where he got Rs900 million from?”

The senator produced bank account statements of Dr Arsalan and said that the person who used to “work under somebody else” now owns billions of rupees. He also showed that the billing address mentioned was that of the Chief Justice House in Islamabad.

“You [Justice Chaudhry] are to be blamed for this. This happened right in front of you. You cannot pretend to not know anything. Who gave Dr Arsalan the right to use government’s property for running his own businesses? Could he not rent out an office in some other area?

Continue reading Senator Faisal Raza Abidi demands Chief Justice’s resignation

Arsalan used Chief Justice of Pakistan House’s address for deals

Dr Arsalan used CJP House’s address for commercial deals

LAHORE: According to reliable sources, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar Chaudhry was using the official address of Chief Justice House, Islamabad, for commercial purposes.

He was even using this address for his company with the name and style F.E.A. (Pvt) Ltd. Huge amounts, reportedly over Rs 300 million, were deposited in the account of this company owned by Arsalan Iftikhar with the correspondence address of Chief Justice House. It is a matter of concern that how an account could be opened in the name of a private limited company with the address of Chief Justice House.

This is a clear violation of Know Your Customers (KYC) instructions of the State Bank of Pakistan, which are required to be religiously followed by all banks and financial institutions of the country. Legally and morally, it cannot be comprehended as to how the official residence of the Chief Justice of Pakistan can be used for commercial deals.

The huge amounts which reportedly were credited as a matter of routine since 2009 in the accounts of Arsalan Iftikhar also raises the question as to why not a single Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) was ever generated.

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Arsalan-Iftikhar case: NAB dissolves JIT after SC’s concerns

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday dissolved the Joint Investigation Committee (JIT) which was investigating Arsalan-Iftikhar case after the Supreme Court had stopped it from conducting inquiry for two days, DawnNews reported.

A two member bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Khilji Arif heard the review case of alleged corruption of Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The Prosecutor General NAB K.K. Agha of the NAB informed the apex court that the accountability bureau will formulate a new team comprising of NAB’s officials.

In reference to yesterday’s court order of stopping the JIT to continue its investigation of the Arsalan –Iftikhar case after one of the members of the team Faisal Memon was accused of being partial, Agha said that “NAB has decided to formulate a new team comprising of its own officials.” Adding that, “the bureau does not doubt the credibility of Memon, but it is for the greater good that we form a new investigation team.”

On the petition of Malik Riaz’s attorney Zahid Bukhari, the apex court directed the investigation teams and other sub ordinate courts, who are dealing with other cases of Riaz and his family, to perform their duties without getting under pressure of the proceedings of Arsalan-iftikhar case.

The apex court subsequently adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period of time.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

http://dawn.com/2012/08/02/arsalan-iftikhar-case-nab-dissolves-jit-after-scs-concerns/

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More details » BBC urdu

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/08/120802_arsalan_nab_supreme_court_uk.shtml

Marvi Sirmed on Judicialization of Politics in Pakistan

Round table on Judicialization of politics organized by School of Political and Strategic communication (SPSC) Islamabad.

Courtesy: SPSC » YouTube

Supreme Court of Pakistan sets aside notification of Samosa prices

LAHORE, July 24: The Supreme Court has allowed an appeal by the Punjab Bakers and Sweet Federation and set aside a notification by the Punjab government through which the price of a Samosa was fixed at Rs6.

In 2009, the City District Government of Lahore on the instruction of the Punjab government had fixed price of a samosa at Rs6 and the magistrates had imposed fine on shopkeepers for selling samosa at higher rates.

The Punjab Bakers and Sweets Federation through its president Muhammad Afzal had challenged this order before the Lahore High Court. Their petition was dismissed and then an appeal was filed before apex court against the dismissal of the petition.

The appellant argued that a Samosa was not an item notified under the Punjab Foodstuffs (Control) Act of 1958. He said the government had no power to fix by the price of a Samosa.

On the other hand, Punjab government’s counsel argued that the government had the jurisdiction to fix prices of all items being sold to the public at large. After hearing both sides the Supreme Court set aside the impugned notification.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

http://dawn.com/2012/07/25/sc-sets-aside-notification-of-samosa-prices/

Arsalan Iftikhar and NAB

By Editorial

The crux of the Supreme Court’s cases against various PPP leaders has been the unassailable assertion that no one should be above the law, no matter how powerful they are. By not appearing before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, has now gifted the PPP with the same argument. Arsalan contends that he did not receive any summonses from NAB, an excuse that will not wash, since all he had to do was pick up a newspaper to know that he was expected to appear before the body. Arsalan seems like the typical son of privilege, a man who has sailed through life by using his father’s name. He has to answer for his misdeeds and his stonewalling is merely delaying the inevitable.

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Supreme court order on Swiss letter ‘unconstitutional’ – Govt can’t carry out court orders

* AGP tells court ‘PM can’t be asked for implementation of an un-implementable direction’

* SC returns federation’s reply, says only remedy available is to file review

By Hasnaat Malik

ISLAMABAD: Declining to implement Supreme Court’s (SC) December 16, 2009 judgement on the NRO case, the government on Tuesday said the premier is not authorised to write letter to Swiss authorities …..

Read more » Daily Times

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More details » BBC urdu

Contempt law case: SC rejects federation’s request for full court

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the federation’s request of a full court to hear the petitions against the recently passed contempt of court law, DawnNews reported.

A five-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Jawad S Khawaja and Justice Tassadduq Hussain Jilani heard the petitions against the new law.

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The battle in Pakistan is not between executive and judiciary, but between rule of law and rule of a Judge

Know thy facts

By Feisal H Naqvi

There are moments in my academic past of which I am quite proud. Getting a distinguished Yale Law School professor of Constitutional Law to swear at me in open class is not one of them.

Continue reading The battle in Pakistan is not between executive and judiciary, but between rule of law and rule of a Judge

Partymen caution Nawaz against blindly supporting judiciary

By Zia Khan

ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have begun to advise party chief Nawaz Sharif against blind support for judicial activism.

The main opposition party has sided with the higher judiciary in the standoff between the government and the apex court, which has begun to reach a crucial point once again – however, recent developments have led to a reconsideration among the PML-N’s hierarchy.

PML-N insiders told The Express Tribune that several central party leaders had cautioned Nawaz to be calculated in his backing for the judiciary, warning of a slippery slope. “A significant number of people in the party feel the judiciary in its decisions recently, and [Chief Justice] Iftikhar Chaudhry in his statements, have crossed certain red lines. This is not a good omen for the democratic system,” said an official. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Getting priorities straight – By Saroop Ijaz

Suppose for a moment that the Constitution of Pakistan is unanimously amended by the Parliament and an article is inserted saying, “from here on in all military takeovers/coups are declared illegal and treasonous and no court of law shall legitimise such a takeover…”. High-minded as it would be, one needs to be fantastically gullible or hopelessly optimistic to believe that mere tinkering with some legal provisions is all that is required for uninterrupted democratic governance. This may seem odd to you coming from someone who makes his sustenance on legalese but law is not really all that it is made out to be and especially not what our media would lead (or perhaps, like) you to believe. Firstly, a military coup is by definition extra-constitutional (or to quote the Supreme Court from the past meta/supra-constitutional) and hence, it will be merely another clause violated and on most occasions, the khakis are not overly concerned about constitutional nuance anyways. Secondly, the courts would read such an article as creatively as they desire since interpretation is, admittedly, their prerogative. However, the hypothetical article would serve some purpose insofar as it will make it more embarrassing for the courts and maybe even for the military adventurers, although they are generally immune from such petty sensibilities.

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Judicial hyperactivism is threatening democracy in Pakistan

By: Junaid Qaiser

Pakistan is known for its weak political institutions, powerful army, several military coups and the infamous Article 58(2)-(B) that was used to send elected prime ministers to home or jail.

But this time around we are seeing a slightly different technique when the three member bench of the Supreme Court declared Yousuf Raza Gilani disqualified from holding a seat in the parliament from the date of his conviction on April 26 by a seven-member bench for contempt of court. A prime minister, who enjoyed confidence of the Parliament, who even before taking the oath of office, ordered release of the judges sacked and detained by former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf and later reinstated all the deposed judges on 16th March 2009 through an executive order. Many renowned experts as well as common person termed the ouster of elected PM similar to a judicial coup.

The Twitterities are using the hashtag #JudicialCoup to explain a new (invented)mechanism to oust an elected government.

The judges’ restoration movement, has been wrongly termed by many as a new beginning for Pakistan, as it’s not only failed to create and develop space for civilian supremacy, but also emerged a main hurdle in democratic evolution. And, today, we are more concerned than ever about the political instability. International media and observers place Pakistan in the category of countries, where parliament is continuously under sieges.

Pakistan’s judiciary has a very controversial history, which had never opposed, even the unconstitutional actions of the military dictators. The frequent imposition of martial laws, abrogation and suspension of constitutions were acts of treason under the law but were frequently validated by our apex courts.

In Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan versus the Federation of Pakistan, Justice Munir declared that the Assembly was not a sovereign body. He gave the ruling that the Constitutional Assembly had “lived in a fool’s paradise if it was ever seized with the notion that it was the sovereign body of the state”. The wording may be slightly different but the mindset remain the same, when the present Chief Justice said that the concept of parliament’s sovereignty was ages old so it was not so it was not applicable now. Historians feel that Justice Munir destroyed Pakistan’s constitutional basis when he denied the existence of Assembly’s sovereignty, and further harmed it by not indicating where sovereignty resided. It is quite obvious that historians will also judge the serious consequences of the present role of the judiciary for parliamentary democracy in Pakistan.

The observation by Justice Munir in Dosso versus the Federation of Pakistan, that a successful coup is a legal method of changing a constitution, sets the basis for the Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army, General Ayub Khan, to takeover the government from Iskandar Mirza. Ironically, the military takeover by General Ayub Khan on October 27, 1958, took place one day after the decision of the court was announced. By November 10, 1977, a nine-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, headed by Chief Justice Sheikh Anwarul Haq, unanimously validated the imposition of martial law under the ‘doctrine of necessity’. The judgment provided cover to the unconstitutional act of General Ziaul Haq and even gave him authority to make changes in the constitution. And in the Zafar Ali Shah case, the Supreme Court had granted three years to General Musharraf to hold elections and amend the Constitution and, in turn, General Musharraf gave three-year extension in service to the then incumbent judges.

Continue reading Judicial hyperactivism is threatening democracy in Pakistan

Restructuring of the Judicial System – Taj Haider

Article 209 (Supreme Judicial Council) lays down the composition as well the procedure to be followed to probe into capacity or conduct of a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court.

While the said article in Sub-article (3) sections (a) and (b) looks at the possibility of looking at the capacity or the conduct of a member of the Supreme Judicial Council who is a judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of a High Court, it clearly omits the possibility of looking into the capacity and conduct of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

There is a clear procedure laid down for the impeachment of the President of Pakistan by the Parliament in article 47. However, the Chief Justice of Pakistan is not answerable to any authority if he is accused of misconduct or is perceived to be unable to perform his duties for any reason.

The composition of the Supreme Judicial Council is also faulty in the sense that it establishes a complete monopoly of the Supreme Court and makes the provincial High Courts subservient. Only two most senior Chief Justices of High Courts are council members as against three (Supreme Court Chief Justice and two next most senior Judges from the Supreme Court). This composition clearly violates the autonomy principle and concentrate authority in the Centre and de-facto in one person, who is the Chief Justice and also above probe if accused of incapacity or misconduct.

It is thus proposed that:

1) Besides the Chief Justice of Pakistan only the one senior most judge of the Supreme Court should be member of the Supreme Judicial Council.

2) The Chief Justices of all the four provincial High Courts should be members of the Supreme Judicial Council.

3) The Senate of Pakistan shall have the power to impeach the Chief Justice of Pakistan by two third majority.

Continue reading Restructuring of the Judicial System – Taj Haider

Rough justice

By Asad Jamal

June 2012 will go down in the legal and political history of Pakistan as a watershed month as the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan intruded not only the domain of other state institutions and violated the code of conduct for the superior judiciary but also disregarded some of its own recent and not-so recent pronouncements.

It was the June 19 decision to disqualify Yousuf Raza Gilani as a member of the National Assembly (NA) and as Prime Minister of Pakistan that really stole the limelight. The decision, delivered through a short order which states that the reasons for disqualification will be recorded later, has been criticised on various grounds. The critics of the verdict variously call it legally infirm, an encroachment upon the domain of parliament and other constitutional offices, lacking impartiality and being potentially detrimental to democracy in Pakistan.

On the lack of impartiality first: while the decisions of a court may be debated and questioned, the judges should never lose the appearance of impartiality. In a 2006 speech during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the SC, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had said “… independence of judiciary is not an end in itself; it is only a means to the end, and the end for sure is impartiality of judiciary.” Unfortunately, the order for Gilani’s disqualification is a glaring example of the court’s transgression into the jurisdiction of other constitutional offices, if not outright bias.

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CJ’s remarks

CJ’s remarks

CHIEF Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on Saturday fired the latest salvo in the perceived escalating fight between the superior judiciary and the PPP-led federal government. The Supreme Court, according to Justice Chaudhry, can strike down any legislation that is incompatible with the fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution. While this is a well-established principle, the timing of Justice Chaudhry’s comments is impossible to ignore: the chief justice’s dilation on the ins and outs of the constitution came in a week that the government proposed legislation to protect its constitutional office-holders from suffering the same fate as former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani suffered recently. Unfortunate as it is that the past judicial practice of justices speaking only from the bench and through their judgments has been discarded in recent years, the comments by the chief justice come very close to pre-empting the legislative process. Astonishingly, however, the chief justice did not just stop there: he indicated that the supremacy of parliament was ‘out of place in the modern era’, the constitution itself enjoying pre-eminence over the will of parliament. This is explosive, particularly given the backdrop of the judiciary-government battles. Start with the claim that the constitution, not parliament, is supreme, add the corollary that the SC is the final and unquestioned interpreter of what the constitution does or does not permit — and suddenly Pakistan is in the realm of a supreme judiciary, an unelected institution dictating the contract by which state and society interact. This would be a fundamental shift in the way Pakistan’s constitutional arrangement is imagined and it is quite extraordinary that a serving chief justice would see fit to make such a pronouncement outside a judicial forum. In the SC, the chief justice is the administrative head but his vote is equal to that wielded by any other justice in any given case. Surely, then, at the very least, this is a matter to be decided before a full court, if and when the matter comes before the court.

But returning to the issue of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution, why is it that the court keeps invoking fundamental rights when it comes to engaging with the government instead of concentrating on securing the fundamental rights of the people? Why not focus on the broken judicial system in which the average complainant has virtually no hope of ever getting justice, and none of getting it on time? Why not focus on the abysmally low rate of successful prosecution that allows criminals to walk free? Must the court be so obviously selective?

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

http://dawn.com/2012/07/09/cjs-remarks-3/

Our right to know

By Saroop Ijaz

The refusal of the Supreme Court Registrar to render to the Public Accounts Committee any details of the plots ostensibly allotted to the Honourable Judges leaves a distinctive and familiar bad taste in the mouth. The reason put forth by the Registrar is that according to Article 68 of the Constitution, no discussion can take place in parliament regarding the conduct of any judge of the Superior Courts  “in discharge of his duties”. The argument is indeed peculiar since I certainly hope that the Registrar is not implying that the land was acquired in discharge of duties. Let us get a few things clear at the outset; firstly, no allegation has been made against any judge or the judiciary. Secondly, even if an extra plot was accepted, it forms no basis of a prima facie misconduct. In this light, the reluctance or the outright denial seems faintly paranoid and defensive, in any event puzzling. I have a feeling that because the Supreme Court thinks that parliament is made up of incompetent crooks, it (the SC) cannot and should not subject itself to scrutiny by them. If that is so, the problem should be obvious: clichés likes “checks and balances”, “who will guard the guards” etc. The SC is empowered to interpret the law and decide what is permissible, yet the refusal comes too close to ambitiously high-minded self-comparisons with two of the four Caliphs. I am against anyone being held to the standards of the pious Caliphs and quite content with imperfect temporal constitutional standards. Yet, to the cynic it may seem as what can be colloquially termed as a “having-it-both-ways” approach.

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The shadow of Zia (dictator’s ghost) still looms large over the Parliament

Rights activist and former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir.

Constitutional trap

By: Asma Jahangir

THE shadow of Zia still looms large over our political scene. Several parliaments and parliamentary committees have tried to exorcise this dictator’s ghost from the constitution but they never succeeded in rectifying all the ills. The current parliament is no different.

The committee drafting the 18th Amendment was urged time and again to do away with Zia’s crafty law that allows the disqualification of members of parliament. And now the PPP faces the consequences of its own omission as its prime minister is threatened with disqualification due to the Supreme Court judgment in the contempt case.

The SC has not convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for obstructing the administration of justice but for ridiculing the judiciary. The court has been able to do this because of the law introduced by Zia. Article 63(g) is open-ended and can end up being used by the judiciary to persecute the politicians.

The law disqualifies anyone who has been convicted for “propagating any opinion or acting in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan…”

Very few would dispute that this article is problematic.

Continue reading The shadow of Zia (dictator’s ghost) still looms large over the Parliament

Judicial responsibility and organs of state

By Markandey Katju

After my article about the constitutional misbehaviour of the Pakistan Supreme Court was published in The Hindu (June 21), I received several queries and objections regarding it. Hence an explanation is called for, which I am giving below:

The first objection is that the British Constitutional principle, “The King can do no wrong” applies to a monarchy, not a republic. My answer is that I am well aware that Pakistan, like India is a republic. However, in both these countries, total immunity from criminal prosecution is granted to the President. Thus, Section 248(2) of the Pakistan Constitution states: “No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or Governor in any Court during his term of office.” Article 361(2) of the Indian Constitution is identically worded.

Continue reading Judicial responsibility and organs of state

Pakistan’s gun-slinging chief justice faces backlash

…. But the CJP, too, has got his fair share of criticism. Some say the decision to disqualify Gilani smacks of a grudge match cheered on by his allies in Pakistan’s boisterous media.

Legal experts have questioned whether Justice Chaudhry may have exceeded his powers by ousting the prime minister, arguing that there were other options available to resolve the stand-off with Zardari’s government. “It’s my impression that the judgements are highly politicised,” said Asma Jahangir, a respected human rights lawyer. “The populist approach of the chief justice will destabilise the democratic process.” ….

Read more » Daily Times

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Click to read » Philippine Senate voted to remove Supreme Court Chief Justice

Kurd unhappy over SC verdict on NRO

By Iftikhar A. Khan

The judgment appeared to be based on newspaper headlines and talk shows of private TV channels: Ali Ahmed Kurd.—Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD Ali Ahmed Kurd, the firebrand leader of the lawyers` movement and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, who has been keeping quiet for quite some time, surprised a lot of people on Tuesday with his blunt criticism of the way the Supreme Court was behaving. Judges should “behave like judges”, he said.

Continue reading Kurd unhappy over SC verdict on NRO

Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

By George Bruno

As the NATO military offensive against the revitalized Taliban progresses in Afghanistan, the political situation in neighboring Pakistan remains tense in a way that can directly impact U.S. military and political objectives in the region.

I have long believed that the pacification of the extremist threat in South Asia and around the world can only be accomplished in an environment of democracy and the rule of law. Any assault on these values fuels the fires of fanaticism.

Continue reading Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

A must read article of Khaled Ahmed – Fallout from Arsalangate

Fallout from Arsalangate

By Khaled Ahmed

The PPP government was already in the dock for corruption. Arsalangate dragged some other entities into it: the army, the media, and the chief justice

Malik Riaz Hussain, arguably the biggest real estate developer in Pakistan with ‘connections’, decided to reveal that he had been blackmailed by the son of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and had allegedly been forced to spend nearly Rs 40 crore on him. He used journalists of a media house on a social media website to deniably make his case, after which the country witnessed a full-blown media scandal undermining the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court.

Called to the Supreme Court on suo motu, Malik Riaz submitted evidence of payments made to Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. He then went on TV and made additional allegations, some of them implying that Chief Justice Chaudhry may have been aware of what was going on. In answer, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar claimed that he had never met Malik Riaz and that he had received no payments from him or his relatives to finance his clearly lavish holidays abroad. Chief Justice Chaudhry expressed his complete lack of knowledge of all this.

The linguistic divide: One partisan of the debate that followed stated: ‘The Chief Justice took suo motu notice of the case and presided over the Bench while in the complete knowledge of the code of conduct of Judges. Given the experience and acumen of My Lord, the Chief Justice, one can say to a moral certainty that he would be aware of the general principle and the specific provision of the code of conduct, which requires judges not to hear matters involving immediate family members’. This comment was in English.

The first divide became visible on the subject and it was linguistic. In Urdu, the issue was addressed in the light of the example of Hazrat Umar who presided over the trial of his son and punished him with his own hands. This linguistic split – which is the most glaring ideological bifurcation in the country – was followed by politicians squaring off against one another: the PMLN and Tehreek Insaf announced themselves on the side of Chief Justice. They accused the ruling PPP of having engineered entrapment through Malik Riaz to get rid of the Chief Justice.

First Army, then TV Anchors: The media rallied to the defence of the Chief Justice. Most of the TV anchors thought it was a conspiracy to challenge the Chief Justice because he had made pointed investigations into “disappearances” in Balochistan. The implication was that the Army was offended and wanted the judge to ‘lay off’, and had used Malik Riaz to make revelations about Arsalan whose reputation was already subject of rumours in Pakistan for some time.

Continue reading A must read article of Khaled Ahmed – Fallout from Arsalangate

Pakistani Supreme Court has gone overboard – says Justice Markandey Katju (Supreme Court of India)

It has no right to dismiss a Prime Minister or overrule the constitutional immunity given to the President

By: Markandey Katju

When I was I was a student of law at Allahabad University, I had read of the British Constitutional principle ‘The King can do no wrong’. At that time I did not understand the significance of this principle and what it really meant. It was much later, when I was in law practice in the Allahabad High Court, that I understood its real significance.

The British were experienced and able administrators. They realized from their own long, historical experience that while everybody should be legally liable for his wrongs and made to face court proceedings for the same, the person at the apex of the whole constitutional system must be given total immunity from criminal proceedings, otherwise the system could not function. Hence the King of England must be given total immunity from criminal proceedings. Even if he commits murder, dacoity, theft, or some other crime, the King cannot be dragged to court and made to face a trial.

One may ask why should the King be given this immunity when others are not? The answer is that in the practical world one does not deal with absolutes. The British were one of the most far sighted administrators the world has known. They realized that if the King is made to stand on the witness box or sent to jail, the system could not function. A stage is reached at the highest level of the system where total immunity to the person at the top has to be granted. This is the only practical view.

Following this principle in British constitutional law, almost every Constitution in the world has incorporated a provision giving total immunity to Presidents and Governors from criminal prosecution.

Thus, Section 248(2) of the Pakistani Constitution states:

“No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or Governor in any Court during his term of office.”

The language of the above provision is clear, and it is a settled principle of interpretation that when the language of a provision is clear the court should not twist or amend its language in the garb of interpretation, but read it as it is.

I therefore fail to understand how proceedings on corruption charges (which are clearly of a criminal nature) can be instituted or continued against the Pakistani President.

Moreover, how can the court remove a Prime Minister? This is unheard of in a democracy. The Prime Minister holds office as long he has the confidence of Parliament, not the confidence of the Supreme Court.

I regret to say that the Pakistani Supreme Court, particularly its Chief Justice, has been showing utter lack of restraint. This is not expected of superior courts. In fact the court and its Chief Justice have been playing to the galleries for long. It has clearly gone overboard and flouted all canons of constitutional jurisprudence.

The Constitution establishes a delicate balance of power, and each of the three organs of the state — the legislature, the executive and the judiciary – must respect each other and not encroach into each other’s domain, otherwise the system cannot function. It seems to me that the Pakistani Supreme Court has lost its balance and gone berserk. If it does not now come to its senses I am afraid the day is not far off when the Constitution will collapse, and the blame will squarely lie with the court, and particularly its Chief Justice.

Continue reading Pakistani Supreme Court has gone overboard – says Justice Markandey Katju (Supreme Court of India)

HRCP terms Gilani’s removal as depressing

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called the disqualification of Yousaf Raza Gilani a sad occasion in a country where democratic traditions have perpetually been denied the nourishment they need to take roots.

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People never to permit undermining of Parliament: Zardari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari said Wednesday that the people of Pakistan would never permit undermining of the Parliament behind different pretexts and they know how to ensure the supremacy of the Parliament and the Constitution.

He said, “the era of packing the Parliament through the back door by using the defunct Article 58 (2) (b) is over for all times and no back doors and side doors will be allowed to be reopened for sending the elected Parliaments home.”

“Our people will also not suffer a destiny thrusted upon them by militants and extremists in the name of religion or in any other name,” he added.

The president said this in his message on the 59th birth anniversary of Benazir Bhutto falling on Thursday.

President Zardari said, “On the eve of her 59th birthday I wish to reiterate our commitment to the values of supremacy of the Parliament and the Constitution and the building of a modern, egalitarian and pluralistic society in which everyone is allowed opportunity to help shape his or her own destiny—values for which she stood and fought for and when the time came even laid down her life for it.”

He said Benazir Bhutto led from the front the battle for democracy against all sorts of bonapartes and extremists.

“She believed in a moderate and pluralistic Pakistan where ballot determined the ultimate choice of the people and where the House elected by the people representing their will was supreme.”

Continue reading People never to permit undermining of Parliament: Zardari