Saturday June 03, 2023

No trust in SC bench led by CJP, says PDM

The development comes after PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif extends support to PDM's plan to boycott bench

By Ali Raza
April 02, 2023
PDM leaders Shehbaz Sharif (centre), Asif Ali Zardari (right) and Fazlur Rehman (left) speak during a press conference in Islamabad, on March 28, 2022. — AFP
PDM leaders Shehbaz Sharif (centre), Asif Ali Zardari (right) and Fazlur Rehman (left) speak during a press conference in Islamabad, on March 28, 2022. — AFP

LAHORE: Former prime minister and head of PMLN Nawaz Sharif has suggested the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and allied parties of the government boycott the three-member bench of the Supreme Court in the case of postponement of elections in two provinces.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called a meeting of the PDM on Saturday, which was attended through a video link by former president Asif Ali Zardari, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, President JUIF Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Chaudhry Salik Hussain and PMLN Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz. Federal Minister of Law Senator Azam Nazir Tarar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Attaullah Tarar, Malik Ahmed Khan and other leaders also participated in the meeting physically to assist the prime minister, sources said.

PMLN sources said the meeting considered various options, including a possible boycott of the three-member bench of SCP in case a full court was not constituted to hear the case. The majority of the participants expressed dissatisfaction over the three-member bench and said that they had no expectation of justice from this bench, sources said. The participants stated that the same bench had given many judgments against the PDM government in the recent past. Sources said the demand of full court was a common and unanimous demand of all the participants of the meeting who said rejecting the demand was contrary to the requirements of justice.

The federal law minister and the Attorney General informed the participants of the meeting about the implications of the boycott decision, sources said and revealed that in case of a unilateral decision of the Supreme Court, it was agreed to adopt a common plan of action of all the allied parties. The meeting also discussed the current political situation and the latest developments in pending cases.

Sources claimed that Nawaz Sharif suggested that all parties of the PDM should boycott the three-member bench. Nawaz Sharif, giving his categorical opinion, said that there was no expectation of justice from the three-member bench, sources maintained.

During the meeting, it was proposed that the Attorney General should appear in the court and express no confidence in the three-member bench, sources said and claimed that it was also agreed that the Attorney General be notified of the boycott of the proceedings. Sources said many PDM members endorsed the opinion of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif about the boycott of the bench. Sources claimed that Nawaz Sharif feared that the non-formation of the full court was a sign of a special agenda.

Earlier, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Ataullah Tarar, talked to the media and said that today’s meeting was called to discuss the one-sided proceedings of the Supreme Court. “The bench came down from nine to three and the division of the Supreme Court is before everyone,” he said. He alleged that it was seen again and again that the affairs of the Supreme Court were running under a mindset. He said in this situation, all the parties of PDM had the right to consult with each other. He claimed that a three-member bench of the Supreme Court didn’t want to give political parties the right to speak their mind. He questioned how could the registrar of the Supreme Court issued a circular and negate the decision of Justice Qazi Faiz Isa. “Our only demand is that we want a full court.”

According to a statement issued later, the meeting demanded that elections should be held on the same day across the country. This was the basic constitutional requirement of conducting impartial, transparent and free elections and deviation from this will plunge the country into a disastrous political crisis. This situation would be tantamount to a suicide attack on the country’s economic interests, the meeting stated. The meeting made it clear that the conspiracy to create a permanent political and constitutional crisis in the entire country under the pressure of a party attacking the state institutions with mobs will not be accepted under any circumstances.

The statement said the participants of the meeting said that, unfortunately, an administrative issue had been turned into a political and constitutional crisis. Neglecting economic, security, constitutional, legal and political issues was equivalent to indifference towards state interests.

They alleged that the special purpose and urgency of giving relief to a particular political party appeared to be a political agenda, the statement said adding it was also against the Constitution and law and the authority of the Election Commission. Under Article 218 (3) of the Constitution, among other constitutional provisions, the Election Commission has the power to conduct elections and the Supreme Court should not interfere with the power of an independent Election Commission under the Constitution, the legal minds told the meeting and said the same decision had been given by four honourable judges of the Supreme Court in case No1/2023. The statement said the meeting expressed no confidence in the three-member bench headed by the Chief Justice, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar and demanded that the court proceedings be terminated by accepting the four-judge majority judgment of the Spontaneous Notice No1/2023.

The statement said the legal teams of different parties attending the meeting said the sad fact was that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court wanted to impose the decision of the minority on the decision of the majority. They said this behaviour was not only creating a serious constitutional and political crisis in the country but was also a clear example of deviation from the Constitution and prevailing legal procedures, which was also a clear violation of the basic concept of separation of powers of the state. The meeting raised the question that the bench headed by the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, has ordered to stop the hearing of all the cases under 184(3). They said conflicting court decisions had created an unworkable and complicated situation and everyone must also respect the decision of Justice Qazi Faiz Isa’s bench. The statement claimed that the meeting demanded that the references filed under Article 209 by the Pakistan Bar Council and other bar associations should be processed. The meeting made it clear that Justice Ejaz-ul-Ahsan had already left the bench voluntarily in this case, so he cannot be a part of the current bench. The orders of Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail in this regard were clear, all this was also on record. The meeting demanded the Chief Justice of Pakistan listen to the dissenting voices raised in the benches of the Supreme Court as the head of the institution and immediately hold a full court to remove the impression of one man show. The statement further claimed that the meeting described the three-member decision on the issue of Article 63A as the cause of political instability and, therefore, the Supreme Court should refrain from issuing controversial political decisions.

The statement said it was demanded in the meeting that the impression related to the Chief Justice and some other judges that they were adopting a special discriminatory attitude in the matter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf should also be removed. It also clarified that those who directed the politicians to sit together and take decisions were themselves divided and they should create unity and agreement within themselves. The statement added that the Federal Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar informed the meeting about the legislation passed by the parliament under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and the situation arising from the issuance of different judgments and benches between honourable judges in the Supreme Court. The meeting fully supported the recent legislation of the parliament and said that obstacles in the way of justice had been removed by this legislation. Sources said the participants said the legislation ended the one-sided approach of justice to the people and they had been given the right to justice, which was the basic purpose of natural justice and the Constitution. They said parliament has clarified its opinion regarding Article 184(3) through legislation. “Parliament is a supreme institution whose opinion should be respected by all.” The meeting hoped that the president will not obstruct the way of this legislation based on party affiliation, the statement said adding Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also briefed the meeting on the economic situation of the country.