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جمعہ، 10 اگست، 2012

Supreme Court premier Removal machine


 Sending the premier home packing like Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani will create much bigger problems and the danger of the democratic system being wounded up cannot be ruled out as an outcome.
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 The air of confrontation between the government and the judiciary refuses to go away. The Supreme Court’s (SC’s) notice to Prime Minister (PM) Raja Pervez Ashraf to appear on Augusta 27 to show cause why he should not be proceeded against for contempt of court like his predecessor Yousaf Raza Gilani has once again put the cat among the pigeons. The government’s response is yet to be clearly known, despite a statement in some sections of the press by Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira that a decision whether the PM should present himself before the court or not will only be taken after consultations. At the last hearing of the NRO implementation case on Wednesday, August 8, the hope that the court too now sought some ‘middle way’ to end the standoff between the executive and the judiciary, as expressed in Justice Asif Saeed Khosa’s advice to the Attorney General (AG) Irfan Qadir to play a mediatory role, dissipated amidst the court’s declaration that it cannot move an inch from its December 19, 2009 NRO judgement. Two reasons for this reversal to a more rigid position have been enumerated by the court. One, a five-member bench hearing the NRO implementation case cannot revisit, let alone revise, the 17-member bench original NRO decision of 2009. Two, the court’s perception was that PM Raja Pervez Ashraf is resorting to delaying tactics in trying to avoid implementation of the court’s verdict on the letter to the Swiss authorities. The latter perception informs the court’s seemingly harsh act of issuing another contempt of court notice to another PM. Reports also state that Law Minister Farooq Naek’s August 7 television interview, in which he had said that the government was contemplating moving review petitions against the NRO judgement as well as the striking down of the Contempt Act, became a further basis for the court’s relatively harsh tone. Those two review petitions have now been moved. Despite this setback to attempts to find a middle way to resolve the standoff, the court still found it convenient to ask the AG to continue his efforts for finding a compromise solution, failing which, the court would proceed further. The AG tried to argue that the court should exercise restraint, but the bench was having none of it, arguing that it has shown restraint but its hand had been forced by non-compliance with its verdicts.



The stalemate was allowed to aggravate when the Pakistan People’s Party on Tuesday decided it would not write a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening cases against President Asif Zardari and would ‘resist’ actions by the Supreme Court within bounds of the Constitution. This adventurism may cost the government dearly. However, the attorney general said that there was no need to plead for immunity as it was “given by the Constitution itself”. He hoped that the court would exercise restraint. This also brings to reference of the debate as to which state institution is more powerful, Parliament or the judiciary. While the prerogative of the superior judiciary to strike down a law enacted by Parliament in conflict with the Constitution cannot be put to question, the authority of Parliament to legislate is above doubt. The SC struck down the 2012 Contempt of Court Act the other day on the basis that it flouted a number of constitutional provisions. But where the dispute arose was the SC decided to restore the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003. Some circles in the legal fraternity accepted the SC prerogative of declaring a law null and void, they plead that the apex court, instead of restoring a particular law, should have left the legislation of a new law on contempt of court on Parliament.

The people of Pakistan, the ultimate master of the country’s destiny are genuinely caught in a fear that the impasse may not cost more heavily that the nation cannot afford at this critical time of history. Whereas the unwarranted controversy over which state institution is superior and which subordinate has been created by hawks in media, particularly the electronic media, the situation obtaining at present is fraught with danger in more than one way. That is why the saner lot of the people desires that all issues are resolved without harming the democratic system. Hopefully all concerned understand the sensitivity of the conditions in Pakistan.
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