ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court released its detailed verdict released on Saturday for the Contempt of Court Act 2012 case, said that the growing tendency of not obeying the judgments of the courts by the state functionaries, including the high-ups of the executive will reduce the judgments of the courts of law to mere paper decrees and render the whole system of administration of justice ineffective consequently leading to anarchy.
Some 27 petitions had been filed under article 184(3) of the Constitution challenging the constitutionality of the new Contempt of Court Act, 2012. Subsequently, the court subsequently struck the law down late last month.
Citing the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case as an example in which its orders were being constantly defied by the former prime minister, culminating in his disqualification, said that the former premier was given a fair trial.
“Though the courts, exercising judicial restraint, have always used their power to punish for contempt sparingly, but at the same time they have a reciprocal expectation from the persons against whom the same were issued for implementation,execution of the judgments, orders and directions,” read the court judgment referring to the ongoing contempt proceedings against premier Pervaiz Ashraf.
Incumbent prime minister Ashraf is also facing contempt of court proceedings in the same case and is set to appear before the court a second time on September 18 to record his statement on whether he will write the letter to Swiss authorities for revival of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, or share his predecessor’s fate.
The court highlighted that the Constitution itself under Article 190 maintains that all executive and judicial authorities throughout Pakistan shall act in aid of the Supreme Court. The prime minister is, therefore, duty-bound to give effect to the decisions of this court, the judgment said.
‘No blanket immunity for anyone’
The court also made it clear in today’s judgment that no protection was available to any of the State functionaries from contempt proceedings.
“Clearly, considering the language employed in Article 204, no protection is available to any of the State functionaries mentioned in Article 248(1) from contempt proceedings… unless an amendment…of the Constitution.”
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain in his separate note said that the authors of the Constitution considered contempt of court so serious an offence that they have not left it to the legislature to change it by simple majority by defining what act constitutes contempt.
The federation’s counsel made a statement that new act was enacted, in view of contempt proceedings against the prime minister.
The court’s judgment also countered government’s intentions to snatch the CJ’s bench formulation administrative powers, saying that the provision of section 8(3) is directly relatable to the power of the chief justice in the matter of constitution of benches, which aspect has already formed the subject matter of discussion by this court in a large number of cases.
The judgment also discussed in depth the court’s contempt powers with Islamic, historic and Constitutional aspects.
In his additional note in the judgment, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja noted that “in law-abiding nations of the world, the power to punish contemnors have not only existed, but it has also been used whenever required to enforce court orders.”
Speaker to take action if judge’s conduct discussed in NA
The court, without mentioning contemptuous speeches delivered during legislation process in the parliament, held that “in view of Article 68 of the Constitution read with clause (c) of sub-rule (2) of Rule 248 of the National Assembly Rules, the Speaker is obliged not to allow a member to discuss the conduct of any judge of the Supreme Court or a high court in the discharge of his duties and if a member does it in violation of the above provisions, the Speaker is expected to take any of the actions envisaged under rules.”
The judgment further said that a perusal of said debates shows that the bill was tabled in the National Assembly on July 9 by suspending rules of procedure of the National Assembly and as per the record of the NA, the proceedings were completed the same day. After having complied with the codal formalities, it was then tabled before the Senate on July 11 and on completion of the proceedings, the President of Pakistan assented to it the same day and Act of Parliament was published in the Gazette of Pakistan on July 12 as Contempt of Court Act, 2012.
The court rejected objections raised by the attorney general over petitions filed by bar councils and said that it was the precedent of the bars to file petition on certain issues.