ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Saturday said parliament could not legislate any law repugnant to the Constitution, the injunctions of Islam and contrary to fundamental laws, and that if such a law was promulgated, the Supreme Court could review it under its power of judicial review.
Addressing a 50-member delegation of the Youth Parliament, he said parliament was required to make laws in accordance with the Constitution for the welfare of the public so that laws could be made applicable.
Welcoming the delegation of the Youth Parliament, Justice Iftikhar said he was hopeful that aspiring and zealous young people will prove to be true the leaders of democracy in the future.
About the constitutional scheme in the country, he said the system in the country was a parliamentary system and from 1973 onward there had been national assemblies. “However, on account of constitutional turmoil time and again, there had been interventions in the parliamentary system; therefore, the expectations of the people attached to parliament could not be fulfilled,” he added. Justice Iftikhar said the underlying object of judicial reviews was to check the abuse of power by public functionaries, and ensuring just and fair treatment to the citizens in accordance with the law and constitutional norms.
About the trichotomy of power, he said the Constitution was a complete document which answered all questions and every organ of the state enjoyed complete institutional independence within its constitutional domain. “However, any excess or misuse of power beyond that domain becomes the subject of a judicial scrutiny.”
The chief justice said the judicial institution of the state, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, acted as the ultimate protector of the rights of citizens and the upholder of constitutional supremacy. “The Supreme Court enjoys original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. The advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court extends to matters referred to it by the president of Pakistan for obtaining its opinion on any question of law which he considers of public importance,” he added.
Justice Iftikhar said in 2005 the Supreme Court, while deciding a presidential reference made under Article 186 of the constitution, declared certain provisions of the North-West Frontier Province Hasba Bill as null and void. “Similarly, the Supreme Court, to the exclusion of any other court, has the jurisdiction to pronounce declaratory judgments in any dispute between the federal government and a provincial government or between any two or more provincial governments under Article 184(1).”
He said where any question of public importance arose with reference to the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights ensured by the Constitution, the Supreme Court had the power to make any appropriate order for the enforcement of the rights. “The Supreme Court in its successive judgments has stressed the need for adherence to the law and the Constitution, and compliance with the rule of law and due process requirement to establish a system of civilised governance in the country. It has always squarely adjudicated upon the matters pending before it within the four corners of law and the Constitution in order to ensure continuation of the democratic process in the country,” the chief justice maintained.
He said the law applied to all irrespective of their status, power, caste, creed and religion, and nobody could claim supremacy over and above the law.
Justice Iftikhar advised all members of the Youth Parliament to study the basic features of the Constitution and also how the document had been interpreted by courts to learn about the role of the superior courts in protecting the fundamental rights and constitutional development of Pakistan.
The chief justice presented the Supreme Court Annual Report to the Youth Parliament members. The delegation also presented a shield to the chief justice.