ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial Friday said the apex court will avoid interfering in the political matters of the country but will protect the Constitution and law.
The top judge gave these remarks while heading a three-member bench of the apex court that heard PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s petition challenging the amendments made by the coalition government to the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah were the other members of the bench. The chief justice said the apex court will ensure full cooperation to the institutions complying with the Constitution and rule of law. He said there was an impression that the political parties sitting in the Parliament were making legislation for personal benefits.
“Be sure that the apex court has no intention to make legislation, as parliament is the supreme institution and it is the job of parliamentarians to make laws; we are just the protector of the Constitution”, the CJP said.
He said the court will not interfere in the country’s political affairs but will examine the legislations made against the fundamental rights of the people. “But if the amendments made to the NAB law prove to be a joke with the accountability process, it will be a violation of fundamental rights,” the CJP said.
Justice Bandial said most of the amendments apparently gave concessions, relief to the accused, as he had observed that the evidence provided by the plea bargainers had been made inadmissible in the amendments made to the NAB law.
In criminal nature cases, the CJP said, there was no bar on the arrest of the accused, adding that the arrest was made in view of the nature of the crime. Makhdoom Ali Khan, counsel for the federation, said after completing conviction, the accused though gets released, the blot doesn’t not go and the family suffers for a long time.
The counsel said the apex court had not upheld the punishments awarded by the NAB courts. The chief justice recalled that the apex court had taken suo motu notices on the intervention of the government in the prosecution and investigation process of criminal cases, adding that they had summoned the record of high-profile cases and were just examining as to how these cases had been adjudicated.
“We have passed observations in the NAB cases and over the loopholes in the NAB laws,” the CJP said, adding that the remand of 90 days in the NAB law could not be declared as valid. The CJP said in criminal justice system, only 14 days of remand was permissible.
Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah asked if the parliament abolished the whole NAB law, the people could approach it (the parliament) The counsel replied if the parliament was not functioning, the courts were there to address the issues. “But if the parliament functions well in the parliamentary form of government, the judiciary should avoid interfering in its affairs, he said.
“The parliament is an appropriate forum for debate,” Makhdoom said. He said the American Supreme Court always stood with the elected government. The CJP said the apex court in its decisions had criticised the NAB laws, adding that the court will proceed in the matter in hand with caution.
“We have to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law,” the CJP said, adding that the country was passing through an extraordinary situation. He said at present some 150 members of the petitioner’s party were out of the parliament
“We have asked the petitioner’s party to play its constructive role in the parliament but still half of its legislators are boycotting the National Assembly,” the CJP said, adding they were staunch supporters of supremacy of the parliament.
“Hence there should not be an impression that the court is going to intervene in the affairs of the parliament,” the chief justice added. Earlier, Khawaja Haris, counsel for petitioner Imran Khan, sought time for submitting his concise statement in the matter in hand and in amendments to the NAB law. Haris said he had just recovered from the Covid-19 and needed time for submitting his concise formulations. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing until Sept 1.
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