Judicial activism will be biggest challenge to PTI

Published: July 27, 2018
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Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The ‘judicial activism’ in the country had exposed the last two democratic regimes of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The proceedings initiated by the apex court in matters of public interest had pointed out their poor state of affairs. Similarly, the bad governance of PPP and PML-N was also exposed by the courts. The judges’ remarks on maladministration have also damaged their reputation in the public. Their remarks have been widely highlighted by the media.

PPP still blames former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for not performing functions independently during its tenure with PML-N levelling the same allegations.

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The general elections 2018 saw Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerge as the largest political party, which is likely to form the federal government.

Discussions have started to echo about the continuity of PTI’s support to the judicial activism during its regime. Similarly, it will be a big challenge for the newly elected government to cope up with the incumbent judiciary, which is very active to raise the issues of maladministration.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar, who is very active to initiate public interest litigation, is going to retire on January 18 next year.  It will be important to see whether the CJP continues with his stance of visiting hospitals and taking steps for education and health sectors during the regime of the new government or allow them the leverage of the ‘honeymoon period’.

Earlier, former CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry‘s judicial activism had not only irked PPP but his policy annoyed the PML-N’s government, when it came into power in 2013. Later, PML-N leaders were also annoyed over the judicial activism during their tenure.

The PML-N leadership has already alleged that Imran Khan is judiciary’s blue-eyed ‘laadla’, which makes it all the more interesting to see how the apex court will exercise its power, which is conferred through Article 184 (3) of the Constitution. The power is unlimited and unstructured but unfortunately, it has been used to give tough time to civilian leaders by the SC in recent past.

A senior lawyer believes that judicial activism will continue against anti-PTI political forces. The top court will resume the alleged Rs35 billion money laundering scam next month, wherein former president Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur have been asked to submit their written reply.

Similarly, the Sharif family cases are likely to be taken up before the superior courts in the next couple of days. PML-N leader Saad Rafique is already facing a tough time for alleged corruption in the Railways department.

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The Supreme Court has yet to announce the judgement in Daniyal Aziz contempt case.  Moreover, a few matters related to corruption in the Punjab departments are also sub judice.

However, the majority of the opinion suggests that the judiciary should give space to the newly elected federal government to set its goal and roll back its policy of ‘judicial activism’. However, the top court may raise questions about the poor state of affairs in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) since the same political parties have been re-elected. It is still unclear which party will form the government in the province of Punjab and Balochistan.

Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary General Safdar Tarar said that the bar supports judicial activism but the court should show restraint for the time being so that the new government could initiate its measures in governance affairs without any influence.

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