Thursday June 20, 2024

Even parliament can’t discuss judges’ conduct: CJP

CJP other day took suo motu notice of Vawda’s hard-hitting press conference against the Islamabad High Court judges

By News Desk & Sohail Khan
May 18, 2024
CJP Qazi Faez Isa announcing verdict on petitions against Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023, on October 11, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — PTV News
CJP Qazi Faez Isa announcing verdict on petitions against Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023, on October 11, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — PTV News

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa remarked on Friday the two lawmakers in the dock could speak in the parliament if they had any issue, observing that even the parliament could not discuss conduct of judges.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Irfan Saadat Khan and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan heard the suo motu case on these press conferences.

The CJP the other day took suo motu notice of Vawda’s hard-hitting press conference against the Islamabad High Court judges

Vawda had blasted the IHC judges over their letter alleging meddling by spy agencies in judicial affairs, saying that targeting of institutions should stop. “Stop targeting the institutions, enough is enough. If there is any interference by institutions, then provide evidence and we will stand together [against it],” the independent senator had said during the presser.

Similarly, after Vawda’s press conference, Mustafa Kamal also addressed a press conference and had demanded the implementation of dual citizenship law in all the institutions.

The court after posing questions to the additional attorney general, issued show-cause notices to Vawda and Mustafa Kamal asking them to submit their replies by June 5 and also summoned them.

The court also directed Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to provide complete transcripts of both the press conferences with details of questions and answers during the press conferences by June 5.

“On May 15, Faisal Vawda held a press conference in National Press Club which was telecasted by televisions while newspapers also reported it as well,” the court noted in its order, adding that the senator apparently discussed in the presser, the pending matters in court and levelled serious allegations against the judiciary and its judges.

Similarly, the court noted that Mustafa Kamal also held a press conference, adding that the court is of considered view prima facia that contempt of court was made out. The court while issuing show-cause notices, summoned both the politicians in person declaring that both should explain in two weeks, as to why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them.

The court then adjourned the hearing until June .5

Earlier, during the course of hearing, Chief Justice asked AAG Aamir Rehman as to whether he has watched the pressers of both the politicians and whether the contempt has been made out or not. The AAG replied that he had watched them on YouTube, adding that some of the parts were muted that’s why he could not watched the whole. CJP Isa, however, said that any matter which is sub judice before the court, nobody could give any comments on it adding that nobody could inflict his opinion over the court.

The chief justice asked the AAG to read out Article 204 of the Constitution which he red. Justice Isa said that in the past many people talked against him but he did not paid any heed to it and avoided taking any action.

“But the restrain I adopted turned opposite,” the CJP said and added anybody who tends to undermine the judiciary will not be tolerated at any cost.

“If I have said anything wrong then you can talk about me; however, giving an opinion about the whole institution, it is not fair,” the CJP remarked, adding that one can mention the name of anyone.

He continued that there are different people in Parliament, legal fraternity and even in the media who are either good or bad, adding that if an MNA is wrong, whole of Parliament cannot be declared as wrong. “If anyone in my family or forefathers had committed anything wrong, I could not be held responsible for that,” Justice Isa said, adding that if you don’t like any decision of the court, it does not mean that you resort to used malicious language against the judiciary.

The CJP recalled that a commissioner had alleged that I had rigged the elections while the media extensively highlighted that as well. “How can I rig the election and what evidence the commissioner had in this regard,” the CJP questioned. Justice Isa said that he would not defend those who validated martial laws.

“If I have done something wrong, other judges cannot be punished for that. One who picks a gun is the weakest person as he has nothing to say, while in the second category comes the one who calls names. Nobody does it in civilised societies, so no suo motu notices are taken there,” he said, adding that there was no need to make such a hue and cry and staging drama. However, there should be constructive criticism. He said that journalists give wide coverage to those press conferences held in press club wherein abusive language is being used but they don’t give importance to those pressers wherein issue pertaining to climate and other issues related to social problems.

“We know that on what number the judiciary stands. Using abusive language is not appropriate. We cannot resurrect Bhutto, but at least we admitted the mistake. Do not attack everything. You are destroying institutions,” he said. “If you are member of Parliament, you should go there and address but there too you cannot malign the judiciary and its judges as restrictions were imposed by the Constitution,” he said, adding.

During the hearing the AAG read out Article 204 of the Constitution which elaborates that a court shall have the powers to punish any person who abuses, interferes with or obstructs the process of the court in any way or disobey any order of the court, scandalises the court or otherwise does anything which tends to bring the court or a judge of the court into hatred, ridicule of contempt, does anything which tends to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before the court or does any other thing which, by, law, constitutes contempt of court. CJP Isa said that it seems like the press conference was done one after the other for a specific purpose. “No one will be allowed to harm the institutions,” he added. The chief justice then asked the law officer as to whether the pressers of both the politicians falls in criminal or judicial contempt and who plays the role of prosecution in such cases.

The AAG replied that as per practice, the office of Attorney General plays its role, adding that the attorney general conducts the contempt proceedings. “The responsibilities are now on your shoulders,” the CJP told the AAG.

Justice Isa said that with the passage of time we have to move forward and one learns from mistakes as well. He cited examples of Germany and Italy which had corrected their mistakes and got progress.

“I have always respected Parliament and everybody is witness to it,” the CJP remarked. The AAG then reminded that the CJP had also participated in the 76th anniversary of the Constitution and had visited Parliament as well.

“It’s an honor for me as I consider the Constitution as a sacred document, but when we losses confidence over the judiciary we take law into our hands by raising weapons for getting justice ourselves,” Justice Isa said.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing until June 5 after issuing show cause notices to Vawda and Mustafa Kamal, summoning them in-person on the next date of hearing.