|SC to hear combined petitions against contempt law on July 23|
14 July 2012
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will take up a number of identical petitions challenging the Contempt of Court Act 2012 from July 23 and has issued notices in this regard to the federation and attorney general.
President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday signed the Contempt of Court Bill, 2012, into law after it was passed by the National Assembly and Senate under Section 248(1) of the Constitution exempting all government office holders, including the prime minister and other ministers, from court proceedings under contempt charges.
The Contempt of Court Act 2012, however, was challenged in the apex court for being violative of articles 2-A, 4, 5, 25 and 204 of the Constitution. Those who had challenged the Contempt of Court Act 2012 included Muhammad Sidduique Baloch, Mahmood Akhtar Naqvi and others.
On Friday, a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard the petition, filed by Baz Muhammad Kakar and another versus the Federation of Pakistan through Secretary, Ministry of Law. The hearing was held at the Quetta Registry.
“The petition filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution called in question the constitutionality of the Contempt of Court Act 2012 being inter alia in violation of articles 2-A, 9, 14, 25 and 204 of the Constitution of Pakistan,” said the petitioner. “Counsel for the petitioner relied on the term ‘any person’ used in Article 204(2) of the Constitution, and contended that sub-Clause (i) of the proviso of Section 3 of the Act curtails the power and the jurisdiction of the Court to punish any person, who abuses, interferes with or obstructs the process of the Court in any way or disobeys any order of the Court. The classification of sub-Clause (i) to the proviso to Section 3 of the Act, 2012 is violative of the Article 25 of the Constitution, which guarantees equal protection of the laws.”
The petitioner further contended that the Contempt of the Court Act 2012 is also violative of the independence of the judiciary, guaranteed by Article 2-A, 175 and 190 of the Constitution. He further contended that various provisions of the Act 2012 are in derogation/inconsistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
After hearing the case, the chief justice issued a notice to the federation and attorney general in terms of Order 27-A CPC to examine inter alia the questions raised in the listed petition. Similarly, the chief justice directed his office to club together all such petitions, which are identical on the subject matter instituted before this Court by different petitioners and said notices in those petitions also be issued to the respondents and attorney general in the same manner.
The chief justice further directed that the respondent(s) and the attorney general may file concise statements if advised and desired before the next date of hearing, and the pleadings shall be exchanged between the parties before the commencement of the hearing of the petitions.
The chief justice directed that all these cases be fixed in Islamabad on July 23, 2012 and all concerned be informed accordingly.SC press release adds: In compliance with the Court order dated 13.07.2012 in Constitution Petition No 77 of 2012 and CMA No 3057 of 2012 (Baz Muhammad Kakar and another versus Federation of Pakistan through Secretary Ministry of Law) notices have been issued to Attorney General and all respondents — Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf through principal secretary; federal law minister; Senate chairman through secretary, Senate Secretariat; National Assembly speaker through secretary, National Assembly; secretary, Cabinet Division; secretary, Establishment Division; and Federation of Pakistan through secretary Ministry of Law and Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. Meanwhile, all the 11 petitioners have also been informed accordingly.
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