IHC CJ has penchant for upholding supremacy of Parliament

October 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah has repeatedly stressed the importance of the Parliament and urged politicians and MPs to resolve their disputes at the forum of the...

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ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah has repeatedly stressed the importance of the Parliament and urged politicians and MPs to resolve their disputes at the forum of the legislature, allowing courts to spend their time in disposal of pending cases.

Justice Minallah, through his remarks and orders in cases involving politicians, has voiced these sentiments. He has been prodding the MPs, raising issues before the IHC, to go to the Parliament for their resolution. He has discouraged petitions regarding parliamentary and political affairs. He has emphasized upholding the supremacy of the Parliament and stated that the petitions concerning political matters would undermine the supremacy of legislature.

While hearing a plea filed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Usman Dar, seeking disqualification of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for allegedly concealing his assets, the Judge observed that the Parliament is the proper forum for such kind of matters. “There are 18,000 cases pending in the IHC. Political battles should be fought in the Parliament,” he remarked. “The petitioner should have contacted the Federal Board of Revenue.”

In another case, while dismissing a petition calling for dismissal of Shahbaz Sharif’s appointment as the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly by lawyer Riaz Haneef, Justice Minallah said: “We cannot rule on matters worthy to be looked into by the Parliament. And, you say the accused should be barred from taking part in parliamentary affairs. If ruled so, most of the lawmakers would no longer be part of the Parliament.”

The other member of the two-judge bench, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, had remarked that it was the Parliament that would see matters [pertaining to nomination as the opposition leader] related to Shahbaz Sharif.

In a case about a slapping dispute between Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhry and a journalist in which the latter has demanded ineligibility of the cabinet member under Article 62(1)(f) on some other charges, the IHC Chief Justice asked the minister to create a forum in the Parliament to address such issues. “The parliament should itself hold its accountability instead of bringing the matter to courts.”

In his latest order on the issue of appointment of two Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members, Justice Minallah has written that it is an admitted position that the two members have not been appointed in the manner prescribed under Article 213 read with Article 218 of the Constitution. The Parliament represents the people of Pakistan through their chosen representatives; he noted adding that the Senate and National Assembly reflect the ethos, wisdom and aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Both the Houses, therefore, are expected to resolve political issues through dialogue and in accordance with the democratic principles so that involving the courts in such matters could be avoided and the courts’ time is used for deciding pending litigation.

The top judge further noted that the IHC has no doubt that through collective wisdom the Parliament can resolve all political issues and ensure that the constitutional provisions are followed and implemented in letter and spirit. It is the duty of the custodians of the two Houses - the Senate Chairman and the National Assembly Speaker - to ensure that controversies between the treasury and opposition benches are amicably settled through democratic process. This obligation they owe to the people of Pakistan.

Continuing, Justice Minallah wrote that the will of the people of Pakistan and their collective wisdom ought to be given highest respect by reposing confidence that their chosen representatives in the Parliament would resolve all the political disputes and uphold the constitutional provisions without interference by the courts.

He directed the secretaries of the Senate and National Assembly Secretariats to submit a joint report on or before the next date of hearing regarding the outcome of joint efforts made by the Chairman and Speaker regarding settlement of disputes between the treasury and opposition benches so that they are resolved amicably and the constitutional provisions are upheld by appointing ECP members in the manner prescribed under Article 213.

The IHC chief has been dismissing at early stage petitions regarding the Parliament. While dismissing a plea about funds of China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC), moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) legislator Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha, he remarked that the IHC wants to uphold the supremacy of Parliament. “As a member of National Assembly you should raise this issue on the floor of the House. If such matters would come to the court it would not be in favour of Parliament and judiciary as well.”

He also dismissed a petition moved against release of Indian pilot Abhinandan who was caught by Pakistan Army on February 27. “We cannot question the patriotism of our legislators, when the whole Parliament has adopted the release of Indian pilot decision, so there is no need of any discussion over the issue. We respect the Parliament would not intervene in foreign affairs.”

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