ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms Committee (PCCR), the architect of the recently approved 18th Amendment Bill, has vowed to defend the piece of legislation when the full bench of the Supreme Court takes up several legal challenges to it next week.
All the political parties represented on the panel have promised to support the government in defending what is being described as landmark legislation in Pakistan’s constitutional history. This was agreed at a meeting of “select” members of the committee here on Wednesday. The meeting was held to chalk out a strategy to respond to a letter Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry earlier wrote to PCCR Chairman Senator Raza Rabbani.
The letter calls upon the committee’s head to explain the “idea and logic” behind forming two separate commissions — one each of technocrats and parliamentarians — to oversee appointments in the superior judiciary, a participant of the meeting told The Express Tribune. However, the letter has not made the committee a party in the case. “It just seeks the panel’s view,” explained another participant of the meeting. Attended by at least one member from all parties except the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the meeting decided that Rabbani would respond to the letter in writing, explaining why the committee laid down a mechanism for judicial appointments.
It was, however, not clear whether the committee would correspond with Justice Chaudhry or the full court when it takes up challenges to the amendment on May 24. The Supreme Court is set to begin the hearing of at least 10 petitions against some clauses of the 18th Amendment Bill, including 175-A which deals with judicial appointments. CJ last week constituted a full-court to hear all petitions against the bill clubbed together. Senator Rabbani called the committee meeting on a short notice to seek their view on how he should respond to the correspondence by the apex court.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 20th, 2010.