|Federation lawyer admits new contempt law made to save PM|
01 August 2012
ISLAMABAD: The federation’s counsel in the contempt law case, Abdul Shakoor Paracha, while arguing before the court on Tuesday, admitted that the Contempt of Court Act, 2012 might have been promulgated to protect the second prime minister from disqualification, submitting that everybody knew that law was never made in isolation or without motive.
Meanwhile, remarking that legislation is parliament’s job and the Supreme Court has the constitutional right to interpret the law during adjudication of matters placed before it, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Tuesday observed that the Contempt of Court Act, 2012 violated the principle of equity and equality and had been made only to save the new prime minister.
A five-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar and comprising Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani, heard 27 identical petitions challenging the Contempt of Court Act, 2012.
During the course of the hearing, the chief justice observed that the Contempt of Court Act 2012 violated the principle of equity and equality. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had categorically declared that even his daughter Hazrat Fatima (RA) was not above the law, he added.
Expressing concern over non-implementation of Article 9, 24 and 25, the chief justice asked the government through its counsel to ensure enforcement of the relevant provisions of the Constitution to protect the life and property of citizens.
The federation’s counsel contended that the instant petitions were based on speculations and apprehensions, adding that the petitioners had failed to identify which Islamic injunction was violated through the enactment of the new contempt of court law. “All the petitions are non-maintainable as the provisions of the new contempt of court law do not violate anyone’s fundamental rights,” he added.
The federation’s counsel requested the court to refer all the petitions in the instant matter to the high court for hearing and to decide whether fundamental rights of the petitioners were violated or not. At this, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja asked the counsel whether he was telling the bench that the Supreme Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Paracha, however, replied that a trend was being set about setting remedy from courts for issues that were not the court’s prerogative, which was harming the judiciary’s sovereignty. Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan said that if the federation was pointing out non-performance of government institutions, the entire responsibility lay on the shoulders of the chief executive of the country.
Referring to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) verdict implementation case, the federation’s counsel said it was not viable for the government to implement the judgment of the court. He contended that someone had to remain the prime minister.
The chief justice barred him from discussing the NRO judgment implementation case in the instant matter, saying it had nothing to do with the current issue.The chief justice observed that democracy would continue if dictatorship was not supported. “The way to authoritarianism is paved when institutions exceed their jurisdiction,” he remarked. The chief justice observed that the government’s claim that the new contempt law was without flaws was incorrect and all matters of public interest could be taken up in courts.
Meanwhile, the attorney general sought permission to argue. The court, however, denied his request and adjourned the hearing till today (Wednesday). Online adds: As lawyers of the petitioners had already completed their arguments, Tuesday’s proceedings began with arguments by the federation’s counsel, Abdul Shakoor Paracha, who argued that the Constitution gave the right of lawmaking to parliament and this right could not be challenged in any case. “The new law has not alleviated judicial powers,” he added.
When Paracha said the petitions should be referred to the high court, Justice Shakirullah Jan said the basic rights had been violated by giving privilege to the elite in the new law, which is why it was discriminatory.
The chief justice asked the counsel whether the matter was not of national importance, adding that Paracha had himself accepted the fault in Section 12 of the contempt of court law and thus could not argue that the law was not a matter of people’s concern. He observed that not only the common people but the Pakistan Bar Council had also challenged the new law.
Paracha pointed out to rumours of a tussle between the judiciary and executive, at which the chief justice observed that if dictatorship got no support, democracy would flourish. “The black coat brought a revolution in this country,” he observed, adding that the judges do not have Kalashnikovs but civil society and media had strengthened the judiciary. When the federation’s counsel talked about the rule of General Ziaul Haq, the chief justice stopped him from uttering any words about politics.
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