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June 14, 2012

Govt preparing reference against CJ?

Opinion

June 14, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The federal capital is abuzz with reports that following the first shot fired through Malik Riaz, the PPP government is contemplating a reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry or forcing him to resign through political pressure.

No government representative, though, has confirmed these reports but senior Supreme Court lawyer Muhammad Akram Sheikh has already prepared the initial draft of a petition to challenge or block any move against the Chief Justice.

According to reports, President Asif Ali Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani are consulting their legal aides to remove Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. According to a source, the Law Secretary Yasmin Abbasi, whose opposition to the independent judiciary and Chief Justice is known, has already been consulted for the preparation of a reference against the CJ.

This fact is reflected in the draft petition prepared by Muhammad Akram Sheikh, who also shared the same with The News. According to Akram Sheikh, the law secretary had already prepared a reference.

Sheikh said that through the petition, he would either make an effort to pre-empt such a move or would challenge it immediately if a reference was moved. In his reply through a text message, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said: “The PM has already publicly rejected any talk of a reference/resignation.”

Federal Law Minister Farooq H Naek, according to senior Geo anchor Hamid Mir, has categorically denied that the law ministry was considering any such move.Fawad Chaudhry, special assistant to the prime minister, when approached by The News, said that the stance of the government and the prime minister were very clear on the Arslan Iftikhar case that it was an issue between two private parties.

“The prime minister has already declared in categorical terms that there is no need to move a reference against the Chief Justice on this issue,” Fawad said, adding, “The government’s view is that this issue needs to be resolved within the institution of judiciary without any intervention from the government.”

According to Akram Sheikh, he wants the intervention of the apex court to get a direction for all state and government functionaries to fulfill their obligations under Article 190 of the Constitution to act in aid of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

He said that he would also want a direction for all state and government functionaries not to issue statements, take any action that may ridicule, malign, damage or insult the institution of judiciary, including any judge of the Supreme Court or High Court as well as against the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The senior Supreme Court lawyer also showed the intention to make the chairman Pemra and secretary information as party to restrict the media from broadcasting contemptuous statements like the one issued by Malik Riaz on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, PML-N’s senior leader Ishaq Dar, when contacted, said that there were growing reports of a possible filing of reference against the Chief Justice but these reports remained unconfirmed.

Malik Riaz’s scathing attack on the Chief Justice and judiciary in a press conference on Tuesday was generally perceived as part of the government’s conspiracy against the Chief Justice and Supreme Court. But the Bahria Town chief insisted that he had no blessings of the government or any other institution.