Suspend parliament if ordinances are to be enacted: CJP

Apex court adjourns hearing for indefinite period

Our Correspondent May 16, 2024
Former premier appears before SC bench via video link. PHOTO: X


On the passing of laws through presidential ordinances, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday expressed dismay, saying “why not suspend the parliament” if the practice is to continue.

The top judge made these remarks as a five-judge larger bench led by him resumed hearing the federal government’s intra-court appeal challenging the apex court’s majority verdict which declared amendments to the National

Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 2002 illegal.
Other members of the bench included Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder and former premier Imran Khan appeared before the court via video link from Adiala Jail to plead his petition in the case.

While Tuesday’s proceedings of the case were broadcast live, Thursday’s hearing was not. The reason for the case not being streamed live remained unclear.

If live-streamed, this would have marked Imran’s first public appearance since his arrest from Zaman Park in August last year in the Toshakhana reference.

During the hearing, federal government counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan informed the court that the matter was sub judice before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

He said that an application against amendments to NAB law was filed on July 4, 2022 in the IHC.

“Was the petition pending before the high court accepted for hearing?” Justice Minallah asked to which Makhdoom replied in the affirmative.

The court then sought the complete case records in the IHC, including the order.

Justice Minallah asked how many hearings had taken place in the main case to which Makhdoom replied that there were a total of 53.

The top judge inquired about the prolonged duration of the case.

Makhdoom maintained that the petitioner took more time in presenting their arguments.

Justice Mandokhail inquired about the time taken to legislate the anti-graft body’s laws in 1999. “The NAB laws were legislated within a month immediately after the martial law,” Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan replied.

Read Imran set to appear in public after nine months

“It is very intriguing that the NAB amendment case was prolonged until 53 hearings,” the chief justice remarked.

The top judge asked how the case was accepted for hearing before the apex court while it was sub judice before the IHC. “Did the court answer this question in the main case’s judgment?” he further asked.

The government’s counsel replied that the court had addressed the matter in its order and read aloud the paragraph from it related to it.

At one point, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government lawyer informed the court that the proceedings of the case were not being live-streamed to which the top judge asked him to take his seat.

On the issue of approving laws through presidential ordinances, the chief justice asked whether a person was so powerful that they could initiate legal proceedings against the law.

The top judge questioned how the country would progress if laws were suspended in such a manner, and whether it was honest to base the suspension on personal preferences. “Is hearing other cases after suspending a law and forming a bench against it not exploitation?”

“Till when will we keep living in this foolish age?” the chief justice said.
Justice Mandokhail questioned whether suspending a law at the stage of a bill was not equivalent to suspending the parliament’s proceedings.

“Then why not just suspend the Parliament?” Justice Isa retorted. “Whether we break the law or the military does; it is the same thing,” the top judge remarked.
The top judge noted that the will of one person was “imposed” on the entire nation through an ordinance. “Isn’t doing so against democracy?” he asked.

“Shouldn't the president write detailed reasons with the ordinance?”
Justice Minallah observed that an affected party could file an appeal and that could be an individual. Asking how the federal government was an affected party in the case, he explained that “only an affected person could file an appeal”.

However, Justice Mandokhail noted, “Not just an affected person. The law says that an affected party can also bring [an appeal].”

Makhdoom said that they were the affected party in the main NAB law amendments case for which they had filed the intra-court appeal.

The chief justice remarked that instead of suspending the law, the case should have been decided after hearing it on a daily basis. He said suspending a law was tampering with the system.

Addressing Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan, Justice Minallah said that they had started “threatening” the judges through a proxy.

“We are told that turbans will be turned into football. Those who say this are actually exposing themselves,” he said.

“We will not be intimidated by such threats.”

The AGP replied that nothing of the sort was happening nor should it happen.

The chief justice remarked that he was going abroad next week, adding that the date for the hearing of the case would be announced on the availability of the bench.

The court ordered that the PTI founder should be given the facility of video link in the next hearing as well, and adjourned the proceedings of the case for an indefinite period.


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