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Tuesday June 25, 2024

Senators urge judicial restraint, emphasise respect for elected officials

Law minister calls for end to institutional interference, use of contempt as "weapon" against lawmakers

By Nausheen Yusuf
May 22, 2024
(From left to right): Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, PML-Ns Talal Chaudhry, and MQM-Ps Faisal Sabzwari, speaking during a Senate session, on May 22, 2024. — Screengrab/YouTube/GeoNews
(From left to right): Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, PML-N's Talal Chaudhry, and MQM-P's Faisal Sabzwari, speaking during a Senate session, on May 22, 2024. — Screengrab/YouTube/GeoNews

ISLAMABAD: Denying any rifts between the executive and judiciary, the senators of the ruling coalition called for respective elected representatives, saying that parliament is a supreme institution of the country.

Addressing the upper house of parliament on Wednesday, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said parliament is supreme institution and the people of the country "are the creator of the Constitution" — under which all institutions function.

He also called for stopping the institutional interference, saying that Constitution directed all institutions to work within their domain.

“Those Constitutional institutions that are meddling must not interfere [into the other institutions' domain],” he added.

The law minister said the contempt of notice powers should not be as a “weapon” against politicians.

He also shared opinion of his colleagues, saying “some [parliamentarians] believe that if they are summoned [by courts] then they should also summon them”.

However, Tarar said he believed that a restraint should be exercised.

The law minister said there was a need for self-accountability to learn lessons from history.

He said his party was not happy over the incarceration of the politicians and lamented the “vicitmisation” of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders via adverse court decisions.

Recalling the disqualification of former premier Nawaz Sharif, Tarar questioned: “Will only politicians remain at the receiving end?” He said the Constitution did not allow courts to say whatever they wanted.

However, in the same address, the minister also denied the reports of rifts between the institutions.

Addressing the House, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Senator Faisal Sabzwari called for formulating a code of conduct to determine “who could be insulted”.

“Everyone is respected except for elected representatives who receive hundreds of thousands of votes,” he added. 

Sabzwari said the Constitution also spoke about the dignity of the elected representatives, regretting that the politicians are disrespected frequently.

“People’s representative is the proxy of the people,” the senator said, adding that no one has authority except parliament to amend the law and Constitution.

Speaking on the floor of the House, PML-N Senator Talal Chaudhry said his party always respected the court’s verdicts.

He said the PML-N leaders faced contempt of court notices with “open heart”. “I was targeted by contempt of court, that's why I am standing by an ideology.” 

Chaudhry said the prestige of the courts cannot be elevated by punishing the legislators.

“There should not be any rifts between the institutions. The courts should keep in mind the principle of restraint,” the PML-N senator added.

The demand for respecting the public representatives from the ruling parties’ senators came amid allegations of executive’s interference in the judicial matters.

A day earlier, in a rare move of its kind, lawmaker Faisal Vawda sought “contempt proceedings” by the Senate against a sitting apex court judge for calling him as a proxy, allegedly hurting his as well as the House’s integrity.

“Honourable chairperson, I am sending a privilege motion sort of thing to you and surrendering myself as a law-abiding citizen. It is a historical day for me and it is the authority of this House, and it is up to this House to initiate proceedings ... or the committee concerned does so,” he said on the floor of the Senate on the opening day of the 338th session.