ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court is likely to announce its judgment today (Tuesday) in identical petitions challenging NA Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza’s rulings not to send a reference for the prime minister’s disqualification to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and comprising Justice Jawad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, heard identical petitions, filed by the PML-N, Tehreek-e-Insaf and others against the NA speaker’s ruling over the disqualification of the prime minister.
During the hearing, the chief justice remarked that the prime minister is the representative of public, and not his party, adding that the petitioners have contended in their petitions that a convicted person cannot represent 180 million people of the country.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir, however, opposed the petitioner’s contention, and submitted that the seven-member bench, while convicting the prime minister, had moved beyond their jurisdiction. He contended that the Supreme Court couldn’t interfere in the affairs of the National Assembly speaker and Election Commission. The AG further submitted that there was no issue of disqualification of the premier but the only issue was whether the PM had committed contempt of court or not.
“The decision of the seven-member bench against the prime minister was a violation of a Clause 1 of Article 248 of the Constitution,” the AG contended adding that the decision of the apex court against the PM was also in violation of Clause 2 of Article 248 of the Constitution. He submitted that the conviction of the PM was based on a groundless charge, adding that the apex court had never directly ordered the PM to write a letter to the Swiss authorities.
At this, the chief justice asked the AG if the PM’s conviction was against the law, and if so, then the PM should have filed an appeal before the court. “The entire contempt proceedings were conducted against the PM without jurisdiction as there doesn’t exist any contempt law in the country,” the AG contended, adding that the court will have to protect the Constitution.
He contended that the court should constitute a larger bench to review the judgment of the seven-member bench on the issue of writing a letter to Swiss authorities.The CJ asked the attorney general to avoid irrelevant arguments.
The AG submitted that the court should reject the petitions, filed against the speaker’s ruling because the hands of the petitioners were not clean. He said that the petitioners, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif and PTI Chief Imran Khan, wanted to drag the judiciary into politics to gain political objectives.
He further submitted that a person who had shown great regard and respect to the apex court by appearing thrice before it was targeted through poetry in the judgment against him.Later, the AG sought time to conduct his arguments till today (Tuesday).
The federation’s counsel, Munir Paracha, while arguing before the court, also contended that the petitions were not maintainable. “Under the 18th Amendment, parliament has increased the powers of the speaker. Under Article 63, the disqualification of a member is linked to the charge of defaming and ridiculing the judiciary.”
He contended that the prime minister was convicted on charges of disobedience but Justice Jawad S Khawaja observed that disobedience can constitute ridiculing.
Munir Paracha further said that the petitions were not maintainable as they had failed to convince the court how their fundamental rights had been affected.Earlier, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for premier Gilani, while concluding his arguments submitted that the petitions were not maintainable as the petitioners’ fundamental rights had not been affected.
The chief justice, however, remarked that according to the petitioners, premier Gilani has become disqualified after being convicted by the court; thus, the PM cannot represent the 180 million people of the country.
Aitzaz Ahsan, however, replied that if the court interferes in the affairs of the government, then the court would do it beyond of its jurisdiction.The CJ, however, said that they have to protect the supremacy of Constitution, rule of law as well as take into consideration the smooth functioning of democracy.
Aitzaz contended that the PM did not file the appeal against the court’s verdict because the verdict had not disqualified him. Aitzaz further submitted that any member of parliament would stand disqualified after scandalising and ridiculing the court; however, he contended that the chargesheet against the premier did not carry these two allegations.The chief justice, however, asked the learned counsel that he should have raised these points in the appeal.