After an exhaustive hearing of over 20 petitions challenging the new contempt law, it is now the government’s turn to defend it.
With all eyes now on the government, its counsel, Abdul Shakoor Paracha, requested for more time to prepare arguments – but this request was shot down by the Supreme Court’s five-member bench.
Monday saw the court open its floor to the 27 petitions challenging the Contempt of Court Act 2012. Among those who had challenged the law was the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), which had called a ‘black day’ last week in protest against the contentious Act.
The PBC’s vice-chairman, Latif Afridi, presented his arguments, in which he contended that the Act violated the fundamental rights defined by the Constitution. He, however, did suggest that an amending ordinance should be issued and the new law should be made in consonance with Article 204.
It was earlier reported that the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party had approached the PBC and had asked for suggestions to amend the contempt law in conformity with the Constitution.
“Pakistan’s democracy and judiciary are both infant,” Afridi said before the court on Monday. He underlined the need to nullify the impression of any conflict between parliament and the judiciary. “There is a need to create an impression that the Supreme Court is acting like a doctor and if a case is brought before it, its role should be to treat the patient and not to kill it, though cancerous limbs ought to be amputated.”
During the course of the hearing, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who is heading the bench, observed that the growing interest of the masses in parliament and judiciary was an indication of public awareness which would strengthen democracy in the country. “Change in public attitude is an encouraging sign,” he stated.
The chief justice said that such debates had always produced good results in Europe in the past and it was a “healthy sign” — and will eventually enable consensus to evolve in a country.
Justice Jawwad S Khawja observed that, as nations mature, difference of opinion should not be seen as adversarial between the two bodies.
The chief justice also observed that the court had gone through the parliamentary debate on the Act and was convinced that they were in good spirit. “After going through the speeches, we learnt that they [parliamentarians] have discussed all aspects of the new law,” he said.
Earlier, the court had consumed an entire day listening to speeches made by parliamentarians. The court had also made certain observations over the role of the opposition, particularly its walkout prior to voting over the bill. The opposition, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had expressed disappointment over the remarks made by the judges.
Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani observed that the court had gone through some of the best speeches of parliamentarians over the new law, including those of Raza Rabbani, Aitzaz Ahsan and Haji Adeel.
Justice Khawja observed that though some of Haji Adeel’s remarks were critical to the judiciary, it was his right to speak, which has been protected under Articles 68 and 69 of the Constitution. “Parliamentarians enjoy protection like the judiciary,” he said.
From the next hearing, the government through Paracha and Attorney General Irfan Qadir will present the government’s version on the new law.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.
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@Mirza: Sorry one of the URL did not work or change. Here is the summary with the URL: http://ideas.repec.org/p/ces/ceswps/3679.html At the end of 2001, the Indian Supreme Court issued a directive ordering states to institute school lunches – known locally as “midday meals” – in government primary schools. This paper provides a large-scale assessment of the enrollment effects of India’s midday meal scheme, which offers warm lunches, free of cost, to 120 million primary school children across India and is the largest school feeding program in the world. To isolate the causal effect of the policy, we make use of staggered implementation across Indian states in government but not private schools. Using a panel data set of almost 500,000 schools observed annually from 2002 to 2004, we find that midday meals result in substantial increases in primary school enrollment, driven by early primary school responses to the program. Our results are robust to a wide range of specification tests. Download Info If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems readthe IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large. File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBaseContent/WP/WP-CESifoWorkingPapers/wp-cesifo-2011/wp-cesifo-2011-12/cesifo1_wp3679.pdf Download Restriction: no
I agree with the above comment "God bless CJ" and soon! Hopefully the next SC would take up some cases of public importance and make a real difference in people's lives. Here is an example of how a SC judge can improve the lives of millions of hungry kids in our neighboring country offers warm lunches, free of cost, to 120 million primary school children across India and is the largest school feeding program in the world. Perhaps we were naïve and expecting similar meaningful decisions from our new “independent” SC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f227UYDJ7EU&feature=playerembedded http://ideas.repec.org/p/ces/ceswps/3679.html Let us hope and pray that some day we would have a SC that would work for the uplift of people and tackle the real problems with our country.
@Pakistani Hindu: wow, what an insight, you must be quite a genius!
@Logic europe hull: At least they are not NRO tainted!
The corrupt will try to stall the honorable judges for as long as possible. They want to enjoy 8 more months of immunity so as to fill up whatever space is left empty in their Swiss Accounts.
If the top-dawgs had any shred of honor and respect for the people who elected them, they'd rather come in courts and present themselves to questioning. Here, though, they blatantly disregard any integrity and use up their self made laws saying 'we are above the law, you can't question us'.
Only SC can save Pakistan from the corrupt political mafia now.
This arrogant PCO CJ is the sole responsible for throwing country into darkness.
Excellent move! God bless CJ! God bless SC!
It's not like the outcome isn't already decided anyways. The judges would be amongst the petitioners if they could be.
The PPP passed a law that it's lawyers now need days to prepare justifications for? This clearly shows how rushed the contempt-court amendment was and how it has no foundation and excuse other than saving the corrupt few.
What a joke.
Feel sorry for this most contempted court in history Pco taint doesnt help either
What is more contemptuous? What is greater 'Contempt'----- Contempt of a court or Contempt of the whole nation? Someone whose own character has become questionable because of his role in the filthy criminal case of his son Arsalan Iftikhar Chaudhry should take leave or be sent on leave so that this whole shameful episode can be brought to a close without even appearnce of some undue influence by him. His presence in court contempts the public sense of justice and propriety.