ISLAMABAD: The Supreme of Court of Pakistan declared the contempt law, recently passed by the parliament, as “null and void”, while hearing petitions against the law on Friday.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading a five-member bench, remarked that the immunity provided by the new law is against the Constitution.
The chief justice added that the Section 6 and Section 8 of the new law are also unconstitutional and are against the freedom of judiciary.
The Section 11, which says that a hearing will be suspended when an appeal is filed, is also against the freedom of the judiciary, the chief justice remarked, and added that the new law is contradictory to the Article 4 and 9 of the Constitution.
No government official can be given any immunity, the bench maintained, adding that the 2003 contempt of court ordinance will now come into effect.
Earlier during the hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir completed his arguments and petitioners were ordered by the chief justice to give rejoinders as written statements due to lack of time.
While presenting his arguments, Qadir said that the words of the constitution should be “given new meaning” in accordance with the law.
This statement was greeted with surprise by the court.
“You are the attorney general of Pakistan, how can you make such a statement?” enquired Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, while Justice Jilani said, “You should know the consequences of giving such a statement.”
Justice Khawaja remarked that such a thing was not possible.
Earlier, the chief justice objected to Article 2 (a) of the contempt law, saying that the use of the term “judge” there left no difference between the Supreme Court judges and revenue officers.
“All judicial officers have been treated as one,” said the chief justice, in objection to Article 2 (a) of the Contempt of Court Act 2012 which states:
(a) “Judge” includes all officers acting in a judicial capacity in the administration of justice;
During yesterday’s proceedings, Qadir had objected to the bench, terming them biased, but when the chief justice had challenged him to name the judges, he backed down.
Read the Supreme Court's short order here.