ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani on Tuesday asked the courts to refrain from infringing into parliament’s domain and join hands with it to defend the Constitution.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani has asked the judiciary to refrain from infringing upon parliament’s domain, asking it rather to join hands with parliament to defend the Constitution.
In a statement the chairman read out on Tuesday while chairing the last session of the current Senate, Rabbani referred to a contempt notice issued by the Peshawar High Court (PHC) to speaker of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly.
“It is unfortunate that a contempt notice should be issued to a speaker of an assembly. Similarly, information sought by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) also infringes upon the well-established concept of ‘internal proceedings’ of parliament,” he said.
The IHC in a case related to Ahmadis on Tuesday asked the Senate secretariat to reveal details of the senators who attended the proceedings on September 22 last year when a contentious law was passed through which some words in oath about finality of Prophethood were changed.
Quoting the Feb 21 judgment of the Supreme Court in a case that led to disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as head of his party, he said the judgment authored by chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) established that the courts cannot indulge in internal proceedings of the parliament.
The Supreme Court in the detailed judgment in the matter of Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta vs Federation of Pakistan established that courts need to show restraint when it comes to ‘internal proceedings’ of the Parliament as Article 69 of the Constitution gives them legal protection, he added.
“The judgment being authored by the CJP himself, such restraint needs to be exhibited by the other high courts, courts, judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals functioning under the Constitution or any other law for the time being in force as the Judiciary and Parliament are not at the cross purpose, the aim of both is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” he said.
The chairman said he would have liked to meet the CJP “to iron out these intra institutional and intra jurisdictional issues” but he does not have time left for that since he would be relinquishing his office of chairman the next week.
However, Rabbani hoped that his successor would be able to settle this issue of jurisdiction of institution in accordance with trichotomy of powers provided in the constitution.’
“Nevertheless, the office of the chairman Senate is an office in perpetuity and that office would like an amicable settlement of these jurisdictional issues in the light of institutional respect and the mandate laid down for each organ of the state under the concept of trichotomy of powers…. I am confident that my successor will carry this torch even if it means calling on the CJP again” he added.
In his farewell speech, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar warned against what he said ‘judicialisation of politics and politicisation of the judiciary’, the ‘state within state’ and the utter helplessness of the parliament to arrest the downslide.
Babar said he could not applaud the chief justice swearing that he had no political agenda or the judges quoting from poetry instead of the Constitution and the law.
“When my village elder Baba Rehamte tells me that the Constitution is supreme I accept it. But when he goes on to also tell me that Constitution is what he says and not what is written in it then I am appalled,” he said in a reference to the CJP.
Babar said when dignity of courts is upheld by brandishing the contempt law rather than by the force of arguments it is time to ponder. “It would be a disaster if the election year was allowed to become the year of referendum on the judiciary,” he said.
He said he was also pained to see two states – one de facto and the other de jure – often working at cross purposes. The de facto calls the shots but refuses to submit to accountability, he said, lamenting the failure of the parliament to bring legislation for accountability of all including judges and generals.
Babar said he was distressed that all political parties including his own, demanding accountability of all, suddenly backtracked on the demand. ”We must resolve this contradiction of a state within state if Pakistan is not to be devoured by it”.
The senator also warned against attempts to roll back the 18th Amendment and provincial autonomy.
“Smaller provinces may demand parity in the National Assembly as we had also demanded parity with East Pakistan before it broke up. Soon I will be a stranger to this house and unable to speak here. But the voice will not be stilled and fight for the cause will not be abandoned”, he said.
Another outgoing PPP Senator Usman Saifullah asked politicians to do some soul searching to know why they were seeing this situation, adding that the politicians should take responsibility for the current state of affairs.
He said the first thing to remember is that we are political opponents not enemies. Politicians should not weaken democracy by the invective and slander that all too often pass for political oratory. To strengthen parties, politicians need more democratic and participative decision-making within them.
“Supremacy of parliament does not mean supremacy of parliamentarians. It means supremacy of the people. It means that decisions impacting the lives of the people should be taken by those whom the people can hold to account, who operate in the public gaze and under public scrutiny,” he said.