ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) declared the new Contempt of Court Act 2012, unconstitutional, void and non est, Geo News reported.
A five-member bench of the SC, headed by Chief Justice Chaudhry and comprising Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Jawad S Khawaja and Justice Tassadduq Hussain Jilani, was hearing 27 identical petitions challenging the Contempt of Court Act, 2012.
The chief justice wrote the 21-page order.
The order stated: "17. After having found various provisions of COCA 2012 as ultra vires the Constitution, we are of the opinion that the remaining provisions of the impugned legislation, if allowed to stay on the statute book, would serve no purpose particularly, when it has been held that repealing section itself is a nullity, therefore, the principle of severability as applied by this Court in Mehram Ali v. Federation Pakistan (PLD 1998 SC 1445) and Dr. Mobashir Hassan' case is not attracted. Thus, having been left with no constitutional option, COCA 2012 is declared unconstitutional, void and non est, as a consequence whereof, following the dictum laid down in Attorney General for Alberta v. Attorney-General for Canada (AIR 1948 PC 194), it is declared that the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 shall be deemed to have revived with effect from 12.07.2012, the day when COCA 2012 was enforced with all consequences".
Complete SC verdict can be read here.
The court said that Section 2(a) of the contempt law, which defines the word "Judge" as including all officers acting in judicial capacity in administration of justice, is contrary to Article 204(1) of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Act is contrary to Articles 4, 9, 25 & 204(2) of the Constitution.
While ruling on the incorporation of Article 248(1) in proviso (i) to section 3, the order said that it is tantamount to amending the Constitution, which cannot be done without following the procedure laid down in Articles 238 and 239.
Regarding Section 8, which related to transfer of proceedings, the verdict noted that it was tantamount to curtailing the judicial powers adding that subsection (3) of section 8 was violative of the principle of independence of judiciary, hence declared not sustainable.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir was not present in the courtroom while the verdict was being announced.
The Contempt of Court Act 2012 was signed into law by President Asif Ali Zardari on July 12 after it was adopted by a majority vote in both houses of Parliament.
Following the Supreme Court's verdict the Contempt of Court Law 2003 will once again be effective.