Gone: 'The office of the prime minister stands vacant'

Published: June 20, 2012
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Yousaf Raza Gilani stands disqualified since April 26; President asked to ensure continuation of the democratic process. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

Yousaf Raza Gilani stands disqualified since April 26; President asked to ensure continuation of the democratic process. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

ISLAMABAD: 

A swift, short order sent the longest-serving prime minister packing home on Tuesday.

For five years.

For the first time in Pakistan’s history.

Notwithstanding the National Assembly speaker’s ruling, and a parliamentary resolution supporting it, the apex court disqualified elected prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. The disqualification, the court ordered, was effective from April 26 – which could potentially open up a whole new set of problems.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Jawwad S Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain declared Gilani ineligible to be a member of parliament.

The four-page order on the fourth hearing of the case against the speaker’s ruling also issued instructions for the Election Commission of Pakistan and President Asif Ali Zardari.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan is required to issue notification of disqualification of Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani from being a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora w.e.f 26.4.2012,” the order stated.

“The president of Pakistan is required to take necessary steps under the Constitution to ensure continuation of the democratic process through [a] parliamentary system of government in the country,” the order added.

Earlier, the speaker had decided against forwarding the Supreme Court’s reference, in the contempt case against Gilani, to the Election Commission of Pakistan. The speaker had also refused to disqualify the former premier from his post.

Opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, subsequently filed petitions, challenging the speaker’s ruling.

Tuesday’s apex court verdict stated that Gilani had been disqualified on April 26, when a verdict in the contempt case was announced by a seven-judge bench, and therefore has been ineligible to be the prime minister since then.

The verdict asked the election commission to issue a notification for disqualification of Gilani from being a member of parliament.

The judgment, authored and read out by the chief justice, said: “… Since no appeal was filed against this judgment, the conviction has attained finality… Gillani has become disqualified from being a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgment of this Court dated 26.04.2012 with all consequences…”

A composed Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for Gilani, left the court before the announcement of the final judgment. Attorney-General Irfan Qadir was not present in the court either at the time the judgment was announced.  Following the verdict, all Cabinet ministers stopped using security protocol assigned to them, and national flags were removed from their vehicles.

Speaker’s powers

During the hearing, the court also took serious exception over the speaker’s conduct – sitting over a seven-member bench’s verdict.  The chief justice said no one has the right to scrutinise the Supreme Court’s judgment – not the speaker, the election commission or any other forum – except the appellate bench of the apex court.

Justice Khwaja observed that, as in the process of appointment of judges, where President Zardari has no role except issuing notification, the speaker’s role was also symbolic in this case.

He said that there should have been the concept of mutual respect and the speaker should have referred this matter to the election commission, in honour of the Supreme Court’s verdict.  The attorney general, however, had told the bench that a court decision against speaker’s ruling could be set aside by parliament. He also presented a resolution before the bench, which stated that the parliament had confidence in the speaker, Dr Fehmida Mirza’s, decision.

Being an attorney general, Qadir should assist the court proceedings rather than defending a party, the bench observed. The chief justice said the court respected parliament, and they should do their job while the court does its own.

(Read: A judicial coup?)

Published In The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Mirza
    Jun 20, 2012 - 6:12AM

    In this day and age it took seven judge bench to write two fuzzy decisions and another three judge bench to write yet another decision to clarify their decision. The corruption charges against Arsalan and a swift cover-up has exposed a lot about the PCO SC.

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  • Butt Saab
    Jun 20, 2012 - 6:12AM

    when will Iftikhar saab start to care about the greater good of the country rather than adding to the already mammoth problems of this nation. For example there was no need to make “his” decision with retrospective effort? Didn’t he (and of course his team judges are just rubber stamps) realize that this would cause greater legal and administrative problems for this poor nation? I am indeed appalled. This should be a limit to vengeance.

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  • Ali
    Jun 20, 2012 - 7:21AM

    Best news we have heard in 5 years.

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  • kaptslim
    Jun 20, 2012 - 7:54AM

    Yousaf Raza Gillani proved one thing in his tenure … LOYALTY …. unfortunately not with Pakistan… He showed loyalty with President Zardari even at the cost of his own chair …. wish he could be loyal to Pakistan as well … and we would have been living in a different Pakistan by now.
    Kapslim
    http://www.facebook.com/kaptslim

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  • YP Toronto
    Jun 20, 2012 - 8:09AM

    Going, going, gone. Good riddance.

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  • ifti
    Jun 20, 2012 - 8:27AM

    weldone…SC
    Might is not right.. The current ppp govt. has become the most corrupt govt in the history of pak. While the economic development is not being seen anyware….

    Recommend

  • JM
    Jun 20, 2012 - 8:38AM

    An Excellent decision by the SC. This is another great step towards the independence of the judiciary. This incompetent government is ridiculing the judicial system. A layman in every city has started to question the judiciary by following the foot steps of our ex-Prime Minister. This decision should open the eyes of the government.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jun 20, 2012 - 9:03AM

    People of Pakistan are expecting that Supreme Court will also announce judgements in other cases pending before the bench e.g. NRO and other political and criminal cases concerning various matters.

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  • Mubashir
    Jun 20, 2012 - 9:22AM

    A call for Fresh Elections is the Need of the day..Recommend

  • AA
    Jun 20, 2012 - 9:36AM

    @Mirza: Well of course it took a 3 and 7 member bench. If it was one man he would be accused of partiality- this is the only way to avoid that. And they are not covering any corruption charges. MALIK riaz asked for two weeks till he could appoint an attorney so the matter is on hold till he does so.
    And @ Butt saab he is caring about the greater good of the country. When your PM is charged with contempt of court and is a corrupt man who sees no remorse, he should be removed in a second and you should support the court for ridding this nation of at least one of the goons. It’s not as if having a PM who does nothing for you is better than not having one. That is most definitely not the case. Appreciate the judiciary for stepping up.

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  • Usman
    Jun 20, 2012 - 10:24AM

    Being an attorney general, Qadir should assist the court proceedings rather than defending a party, the bench observed.

    Well said!

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Jun 20, 2012 - 11:37AM

    Much the best,excellent and most impressive combined effort by PML-N and PTI to remove the convicted prime minister forcibly declaring himself as prime minister.Very many many congratulations to you PML-N and PTI on your this collective/combined effort.

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  • nasim ahmed
    Jun 20, 2012 - 11:41AM

    Now the ruling party and the incoming party must realize that they have to operate within the limits of constitution and that no one is above the law.Hats off to Supreme Court for taking a very bold decision.

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  • fasihul haque khan
    Jun 20, 2012 - 12:24PM

    SC has disqualified syed Yousuf Raza gillani as the PM.This is the best news fpr Pakistani in the most news.Weldone supreme court,a great job done towards restoration of law in the country.This news is moral booster for Pakistanis

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  • Suleman Hassan
    Jun 20, 2012 - 12:56PM

    Thanks to our judiciary. The darkest era of Pakistan history is over now.

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  • elementary
    Jun 20, 2012 - 5:28PM

    @kaptslim: Well said
    Putting loyalty to persons (AAZ/BB) above loyalty to country and democratic principles,is the trade mark of any dictator regimen or of Mullaiyat.
    And to think, that they call themselves champions of democracy.

    Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Jun 20, 2012 - 5:38PM

    @Mirza:
    Dear Mirza,
    I agree with what you say in regard to ten judges being required to make a decision. However, look at the Julian Assange case in London. Apparently he had a relationship with a Swedish woman, and the Swedish Government has been trying to extradite him from London since 2010 on doubtful legal grounds. The problem is still ongoing, and several British judges have been attempting to solve the problem ever since with what could only be described as fuzzy decisions, which to a lay person do not look safe. I may be biased, but it would appear that the British Courts are making the Pakistan Justice system look like a paragon of excellence.

    Recommend

  • Safeer
    Jun 20, 2012 - 8:30PM

    The Supreme Court, the Chief Justice is clearly exceeding its constitutional limits since its restoration. The Court has authority to interpret the Constitution and law, what it had been doing amounts to encroachment into the domain of the Executive and the Parliament. The Apex Court has vast authority, nevertheless, it is not a totalitarian entity. It is absurd to think that a prime minister, who enjoys confidence of the Parliament can be removed by one or two judges. The court as well as the Executive, in order to avert possible constitutional deadlock, are required show restraint.

    Recommend

  • Tanveer
    Jun 20, 2012 - 8:34PM

    Gilani was democratically elected & it was in the best interest of the country to keep democracy running & to have elections & a smooth transfer to the next govt after elections. This is how civilized countries work. If Supreme Court is really so much concerned about constitutionality, then how about bringing back Musharraf & trying him under article 6? Ah but of course he is an army man & the laws of the land only apply to civilian politicians! A very sad day indeed! Back to square 1; now another round of cat & mouse & attacks & counter-attacks whilst the army sits & enjoys . Also bear in mind that the Parliament, being the sovereign, has the authority to pass an Act (not a resolution) ruling the SC’s decision as null & void retrospectively. This will be more than enough to reinstate the prime minister & will be 100% constitutional.Recommend

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