Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that Parliament is empowered to make laws in accordance with the Constitution to ensure the betterment of the general public.
However, the power of Parliament is not absolute and must be within the parameters provided in the Constitution, he added. It cannot enact any law which is repugnant to any of the provisions of the Constitution.
Justice Chaudhry was addressing members of the National Youth Assembly who called on him on Tuesday at the Supreme Court.
Similarly, no law can be enacted to take away or abridge any of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. The executive has to implement the laws and the judiciary has to interpret such laws.
Any excess or misuse of power by any state authority beyond its constitutional domain becomes the subject matter of judicial scrutiny. The power of judicial review is vested in the judiciary to oversee the acts and actions of the other state organs, said Justice Chaudhry.
He said the court under its power of judicial review can declare any law, enacted by the legislature, to be null and void, if it is ultra vires to the Constitution or violates any of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
The court can also scrutinise any executive action and declare it to be illegal and void. The underlying object of providing the power of judicial review to the judiciary is to check the abuse of power by the public functionaries and ensuring just and fair treatment to all the citizens in accordance with the law and constitutional norms, he said.
The chief justice said the Supreme Court, being the country’s top court, is the final arbiter of the law and the Constitution. It acts as the ultimate protector of the rights of citizens and upholder of the constitutional supremacy, he said, adding that the Constitution provides that independence of judiciary has to be fully secured.
For this purpose, the method of appointment of judges of the Supreme Court as well as the high courts has been provided in the Constitution. The judges have been provided security of tenure by providing their retirement age and the mechanism for their removal through Supreme Judicial Council, said the chief justice.
Under the scheme of the Constitution, the Supreme Court enjoys original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction, he added. In terms of Article 184(3), the Supreme Court has the power to make any appropriate order in a case where question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights is involved.
In terms of Article 185, the Supreme Court can hear and determine appeals from judgments, decrees, final orders or sentences passed by high courts, the Federal Shariat Court and the services tribunals. In certain matters an appeal to the SC can be made as a matter of right while in other matters, the court may be moved by filing a petition for leave to appeal. In terms of Article 186 of the Constitution, the advisory jurisdiction of the SC extends to matters referred to it by the President of Pakistan for obtaining its opinion on any question of law, which he considers of public importance, he elaborated.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.