SC declares contempt law null and void

Published: August 3, 2012
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SC terms amendment as unconstitutional, says the 2003 contempt ordinance will come into effect. PHOTO: FILE

SC terms amendment as unconstitutional, says the 2003 contempt ordinance will come into effect. PHOTO: FILE

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.

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Reader Comments (78)

  • A J Khan
    Aug 3, 2012 - 11:42AM

    Court has compromised its status as an unbiased entity by getting into too much of Power Politics. Their attempts to control a political situation, based on an implied threat of the use of judicial powers has damaged the institution.

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  • Aug 3, 2012 - 2:18PM

    The unconstitutional law as a whole, or at least the unconstitutional clauses, should be thrown in the dustbin of history where it belongs.

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  • Aik-Paki
    Aug 3, 2012 - 2:31PM

    This guy Irfan Qadir is like a mad animal who tries to make noise and radicule the SC bench in every case. He was sacked in by the SC as a judge and then NAB-PG but Zardari made him AG only to hinder the SC hearings.

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  • Naeem Malik
    Aug 3, 2012 - 2:46PM

    Pakistan government is not innocent but now Judiciary behaving like dictator :- ), our way or no way.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Aug 3, 2012 - 3:01PM

    This law was passed hurriedly to block the dictatorial and biased attitude of our SC and is perfectly legal. there is no such thing in our constitution that how much time parliament should consume before passing a law. If SC judges will continue bullying the Parliament there will a third party that will destroy the whole process of democracy and throw back where we were before this democratic government. SC should interpret how this law will be implemented and not why is is passed.

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  • Aug 3, 2012 - 3:02PM

    Why wait till afternoon.
    The verdict was already announced in public meetings at Karachi much before the hearing was started.

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  • basharat
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:05PM

    Final decision in a case where the federal government is a party, is predictable with hundred per cent accuracy, arguments on behalf of the civil governmenti, consequently are nothing more than intellectual exercise.

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  • Lalai
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:05PM

    So predictable!

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  • Zaid Hamid
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:06PM

    Why is there so much hanky-panky in our pure Islamic Republic?

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  • Aug 3, 2012 - 4:11PM

    CJ acting like a Texas Sherif! Sadly he is dismantling democracy. He is no more impartial even a blind man can see that whereas his own son is hiding from facing the law.

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  • Much Amused
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:17PM

    Scorecard:
    SC 1
    Rulers 0

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  • abdul hameed
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:19PM

    hmmm

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  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:29PM

    Is justice Jilani aware of the consiquences of his statement ?

    The judicial terrorism will be not tolrated any more . I think the the ptesent bench should be declaired null and void by the parliament in order to safe guard the supreemacy of the parliament in a demcratic set up . Take action without any hesitation .

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  • KiJ
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:30PM

    Bravo SC… Glad someone is on people’s side…

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  • Falcon
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:41PM

    Thanks God sanity has prevailed.

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  • Ahsan Mlk
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:45PM

    Judiciary the world over has the constitutional authority to strike down any legislation that may be in direct contradiction/contravention to the constitution and/or fundamental rights of citizens.
    .
    The supreme court has exercised its authority and responsibility in the light of the two dozen petitions filed against the new Contempt of Court Law.
    .
    Note: SC only judged with the arguments presented by both sides. Govt. arguments came out to be very weak as compared to those of the two dozen petitioners.
    .
    The judgement should be celebrated as a constitutional and democratic act.

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  • Ghaznavi Mehmood
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:51PM

    Well Done CJ

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  • Mirza
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:54PM

    Thank God for the Supreme Court.
    This PPP government is so corrupt.Recommend

  • mirealistic
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:56PM

    Well done CJ. Show the way out to these so called political thugs and looters.

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  • FAN
    Aug 3, 2012 - 4:58PM

    though law is not good, but the way SC treat it is also very bad,
    they should rather guide the Govt . . .????

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  • Haris Chaudhry
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:07PM

    Another nail in the coffin of democracy by the hyper-active judiciary headed by none other than the biggest threat to whatever is left of Pakistan: Iftikhar Chaudhry..

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  • Mushtaq Muhammad
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:12PM

    This is called check and balance – keep it up my lords! I being an ordinary person standing behind you.

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  • M.Ali
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:15PM

    Why only ordinary people are subject to abiding laws and public officers are not? Law must be equal for all. Good move by supreme court.

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  • Khalq e Khuda
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:17PM

    Bye bye to democracy: say hello to judicial fascism!

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  • mohsin
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:19PM

    now PPP government needs to figure out new ways to harass judiciary.Recommend

  • Caramelized_Onion
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:23PM

    Finally, some sense!

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  • Rashid Khaliq
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:24PM

    Instead of ridiculing and blaming Judiciary. All the leaders of Pakistan are Muslims and how a “Muslim leader” can have immunity? It’s written in constitution that Pakistani leaders will exercise powers which are granted to them by Allah Almighty. Did Allah Almighty gave immunity to Pakistani leaders? Instead of blaming Judiciary why don’t you blame Federal government who is involved in such leg pulling?

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  • Fida Muhammad
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:41PM

    Well done SC! The law was meant for few who would flout the rule of law at will was meant to be thrown away. The attitude and behaviour of Mr. Savage (AG) shows the intent of the corrupt regime.

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  • Ali
    Aug 3, 2012 - 5:47PM

    While I do think that the judiciary needs to mind its own business, this bill was a joke and only a fool would think that it would survive the test of judicial scrutiny.

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  • Furqan
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:09PM

    This bill was horrible besides being a mockery to the name of democracy, justice and good faith. Parliamentarians should feel shameful to have passed such a bill to save themselves.

    Well done Supreme court!Recommend

  • Nasir Mahmood
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:10PM

    SC in fact has saved the common people and democracy. Once elected the rulers are treating themselves Kings – whenever want make a law to protect themselves. All those parliamentarians who voted for this bill should have moral courage to resign from the Parliament. The double agent (Q League) are the main losers.

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  • The Truth
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:19PM

    If ever there were a Supreme Court in need of ridicule, we may have found one!!

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  • Apolitical ramblings
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:19PM

    Well this was bound to happen. The government passed a bill that was contradictory to the constitution and therefore was always going to be struck down in a judicial review. Aitezaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani and Asma Jahangir had already pointed this out to the government on various occasions. The only reason it was passed was to provide the the PPP politicians a chance to play victim in front of the media and nothing more. While I am no fan of some of the judgments made by the judiciary recently this one is spot on.
    And as far as the AG’s saying “that the words of the constitution should be “given new meaning” in accordance with the law.” is concerned he does realize that is what the much maligned “nazria – e – zarorat” was. We are finally getting rid of the remnants of that after years of struggle and along comes the AG advocating exactly what the civil society struggled for.

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  • Mir
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:20PM

    If the courts are not going to do it then who is?? everyone blaming the judiciary is a silent observer of my kids future in the gutter. Have you guys no shame? Despicable.

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  • Saad Nagi
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:22PM

    The SC may have overstepped its authority when it sent Gilani packing, but I think the SC judges are on the ball with this verdict.

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  • HRK
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:22PM

    I fail to understand why so many people here are calling judiciary biased and dictatorial. They need to understand the impact of such a highly frivolous law on the future of Pakistan and the need for the SC to take this stance. Besides, this is the job of SC! Countries including US have a history of judiciary ruling many laws unconstitutional, which actually set up landmarks in their social setup and changed the way society worked as a whole (e.g. Brown vs Board of Education in 1952 resulting in an end to black/white segregation on official basis).

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  • Pollack
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:27PM

    Looks like the Pakistan SC has replaced the army as the new unelected dictators.

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  • jamshaid
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:35PM

    to me it was expected and biased decision by SC. Sc could have send it to parliament for further discussions and recommendation. BUT this our SC and CJ?????

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  • Asad Murtaza
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:37PM

    Bravo SC.
    This is victory for Pakistani people
    defeat for corrupt political mafia.

    These corrupt leaders should think about saving Pakistan first (solving electricity and law and order situation ) and only then they should think about ‘saving democracy’.

    Democracy has given Pakistanis nothing in last 5 years. Pakistan was nurturing way better in pre-democracy era.

    Anywhoo, thumbs up to SC and all Pakistanis.

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  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Aug 3, 2012 - 6:50PM

    I don’t understand the logic of some of the Pakistanis, when the Supreme Court of Pakistan sided with the military dictators,( doctrine of necessity), people were against it and now the Supreme Court is standing up to the despots of the likes of PPP, Irfan Qadir and that doctor of law, so we say that democracy is being attacked. There is no true democracy in Pakistan in the first place otherwise the PM will be in charge and not Zardari. I got a news for you people, these same very people will be knocking at the doors of the Supreme Court tomorrow if some Army General takes over with the barrel of the gun. This corrupt outfit in Islamabad does not have lick of sense because they are bashing the Supreme Court today but do not think of tomorrow. The Supreme Court should be strengthened that they could stand up to any new future commando who might have some nefarious designs for Pakistani nation.Recommend

  • Aug 3, 2012 - 7:10PM

    @Ali:
    Mr.Ali you are wrong. Judiciary is doing its own business. I think you are not aware about the realities.

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  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Aug 3, 2012 - 7:22PM

    @Riaz Khan:

    Drones are there to give them required light to see in darkness prevailing in Pakistan .

    MAINTAIN THIS POWER BALANCE to avoid any mishap .

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  • Talpur
    Aug 3, 2012 - 7:41PM

    The power of judicial review lies with the SC. Therefore, any law found to be repugnant to the Constitution may be declared “null and void” by the SC. So, people stop raising hallabu. SC exercised the power which was in its domain!

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  • Abid Zafar
    Aug 3, 2012 - 7:47PM

    A very disturbing move by the Supreme Court. So much patience and delay in Arsalan Iftikhar case and such haste in the Contempt of Court Act case.

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  • Ignorant Judges
    Aug 3, 2012 - 7:55PM

    Judges are too preoccupied playing politics: they even announce political verdicts on Friday like new movie releases. What a shame!

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  • gp65
    Aug 3, 2012 - 7:59PM

    @Mushtaq Muhammad: “This is called check and balance – keep it up my lords! I being an ordinary person standing behind you. “

    Glad you understand the concept of check and balance. What is the check on this hyperactive suo moto judiciary?

    @Ali “While I do think that the judiciary needs to mind its own business, this bill was a joke and only a fool would think that it would survive the test of judicial scrutiny”.

    I would have expected the Supreme Court to take the trouble to identify and strike down specific clauses that were against the constitution and provide specific reasoning regarding which clauses in the constitution were vilated for that rather than make a blanket statement that the whole bill is null and void because it is inconsistent with the constitution. Clearly the judiciary is asking to go back to the 2003 law , so the concept of having a contempt law is not against the constitution.

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  • Awais
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:01PM

    The constitution is greater than the parliament, unlike the UK where the parliament is supreme. The SC took the appropriate decision.Recommend

  • hassan
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:15PM

    a strong judiciary supported by the army, opposition, lawyers and the public is mauling the weak parliament. when the parliamemt becomes strong it will put the judges back into their rightful place and that will not be in the interest of the country. the judges should not flaunt their strength, they should rather display humility and charachter.

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  • Jibran
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:25PM

    Only Arsalan Iftikhar has immunity to everything. How his lawyer stole the CCTV footage from the supreme court, and the SC gladly considered it admissible, is beyond any norms. Someone is running the Supreme Court as a housemaid. Extremely shameful and disgusting!

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  • Puzzled Indian
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:28PM

    Dear Supreme Court of Pakistan,

    Your judgement is killing fledgling democracy in Pakistan. It is doing more damage to the stability of Pakistan than the assassination of ZB and legitimization of General Musharraf’s rule.
    I am bothered because unless there is full fledged uninterrupted democracy in Pakistan, I will keep having bomb blasts in my cities like the ones yesterday in Pune.
    Please rise above personal vendetta and settling personal scores. Make the institutions strong in favour of democracy.
    Thats the only way you and I and future generations can live in peace.

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  • Abid Khan
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:29PM

    A day to celebrate as the Government failed to fool the judiciary.

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  • concerned citizen
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:31PM

    now term the NRO illegal too, thank you!

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:34PM

    This is NOT a Hockey Match going on between the Government and the Judiciary.

    If the government will not respect the law than who else in the country will respect the law.

    There is a difference between the law-makers and law-implementers.

    Let the law-implementers should implement the law according to the Constitution of Pakistan.

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  • Mirza
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:37PM

    The decision has been an open secret since the day the bill was presented to become the law. “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.”
    Of course when it comes to the SC judges there should not be any Islamic equality among judges, they are the Lords and cannot be treated at par with the other judges. The PCO SC did the right thing. Killed this new law by the elected houses and reaffirmed the 2003 law that was drafted by the puppet govt of Gen Mush. The PCO SC judges are perfectly happy with that law but not by an elected govt. I am glad that nobody is surprised at their once again endorsing the law passed by Mush.

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  • DevilHunterX
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:49PM

    CJ for President!

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  • Naeem
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:55PM

    On top of being accountable to the people through elections, parliamentarians are made to answer to unelected bureaucratic institutions. The military, which considers itself the true custodian of the national interest, challenges their patriotism every now and then by dismissing civilian governments arbitrarily with the active support of a self-righteous judiciary and media. While there are many instances of civilian rulers being punished by the military and courts, there is not a single instance that a general or a judge has been brought to book for violating the constitution. The assertion that the Supreme Court is the ultimate authority to interpret the constitution is highly questionable when there is such a long history of misinterpretation and abeyance of the constitution by the superior judiciary. If it thinks its defiance in 2007 gives it a free hand, why not give such an opportunity to civilian politicians also, who have spent years in jails and are still being repeatedly punished for the cases instituted back in the 1990s.

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  • Jamil
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:57PM

    When we get true democracy you will never hear of the supreme court everything will be settled well before

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  • Misbah
    Aug 3, 2012 - 8:59PM

    Well done SC for Pakistani peoples. Its seems now and feel the justice with all.Recommend

  • Aug 3, 2012 - 9:01PM

    Hazrat Ali said:

    A country can exist with kufr, but a country can not exist with in-justice.

    Al-Mulku yabka ma’l kufr, wal’a yabka ma’l zulm

    So, what is so wrong when the supreme court just wants everyone to be treated the same, no immunity for anyone.

    Did Fatima, daughter of Muhammad (SAW) had immunity?

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  • shazada zahid loan
    Aug 3, 2012 - 9:25PM

    The Supreme Court must be commended for its interpretation of the anti-contempt law in order to protect the corrupt. These guys sitting in “so called parliament” thought they could get away by fooling the uneducated masses (and by virtue thought the educated as well) by pretending that parliament was supreme – it can only be supreme if it understood the word, in this case it was a blatant disregard for the people that elected them and the welfare of the country. The vast majority of the Pakistani people are totally uneducated and therefore it is incumbent upon the judiciary, the highest organ of the state, to safeguard the interests of the ordinary people. The present parliament, as it is constituted, can never be supreme because it lacks legitimacy and many of its members have been elected on false pretences – so many of them being fake degree holders. In the final analysis the Judiciary has the right to shield the country from the corrupt and illegally elected members of parliament.

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  • Aug 3, 2012 - 9:33PM

    PPP Burned !!Recommend

  • Dushmann
    Aug 3, 2012 - 9:42PM

    Pakistan has a very fast and efficient justice system. Recommend

  • Magnanimity
    Aug 3, 2012 - 9:52PM

    Kudos to SC and CJ.

    Hey PPP supporters I have got a question for you all:
    WHY DON”T U COMMEND Judiciary FOR SUSPENDING THE PROVINCIAL MEMBERSHIP OF PML-N MPA Rana Asif ?

    Your claims of excusing Judiciary biased stands Null and Void today like contempt law .

    INSHALLAH,your efforts to malign judiciary will go unfruitful .Recommend

  • test
    Aug 3, 2012 - 10:22PM

    Some of you are so blind, the point of democracy is not to dismantle other instituitions or grant immunity against corruption. Did you vote so that your leaders can loot your money and get away with it? They are hurting democracy as they always have with their incompetency.

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  • Muhammad
    Aug 3, 2012 - 10:40PM

    Shame on him who is oblivious to his own humanity and thinks of himself as impervious infallible despot! That is what CJ Just-us has become.

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  • Prabhat Pal
    Aug 3, 2012 - 10:46PM

    “You should know the consequences of giving such a statement.”

    Sounds like words from a power hungry dictator.

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  • Singh
    Aug 3, 2012 - 11:01PM

    Only way to tackle this judiciary is call them in parliament & impeach all of them for violating Parliament supremacy in democratic setup. No other way democracy can work in Pakistan.

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  • Muhammad
    Aug 3, 2012 - 11:19PM

    An ordinance issued by military dictator in 2003 is valid & a law passed by parliament is null & void. What a hypocricy!

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  • Maulana Diesel
    Aug 4, 2012 - 12:55AM

    Good job done. 100 percent collision in sight.

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  • choptocut
    Aug 4, 2012 - 1:21AM

    Biased and politically motivated decision. There is a contempt law for the rulings of this court

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  • iqbal khan
    Aug 4, 2012 - 1:57AM

    judicial dictatorships

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  • a&a
    Aug 4, 2012 - 2:41AM

    only son of the law has immunity . . .!!!!

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  • UK
    Aug 4, 2012 - 2:48AM

    @Puzzled Indian:

    You should have used either Puzzled or Indian. They both mean the same. It is Internal matter of Pakistan. Giving immunity to some higher ups in against the constitution of Pakistan (at-least on paper) . Every one should be answerable for his/her actions and no one should have immunity, especially the most corrupt, ie politicians.

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  • Mozart
    Aug 4, 2012 - 4:20AM

    Well done SC. Due to British rule and feudalism, Pakistanis don’t know what is wrong with discriminatory laws so please don’t mind the Water Car Syndrome.Recommend

  • Saqib Iftikhar
    Aug 4, 2012 - 5:43AM

    A Decision for which I was waiting for. Very good Supreme Court :)

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Aug 4, 2012 - 11:23AM

    To avoid such these types of collapses and clashes with Supreme Court in the future once again PPP’s leadership has to dissolve national assembly and announce the next general elections’ date so that they could know and see their popularity and soft-corner in the nation’s heart instead of making the laws of contempt of court to restrict the Supreme Court……

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  • DrA.K,Tewari
    Aug 4, 2012 - 4:48PM

    These NRO judges are constitutional where as the law passed at the floor of parliament is unconstitutional . What a great riddle . Is’nt it ?

    An interesting development in Pakistan .

    Recommend

  • Saqib Iftikhar
    Aug 5, 2012 - 12:11AM

    @DrA.K,Tewari
    Would you please elaborate the term NRO judges?? NRO wasn’t for Judiciary but it was to give blanket indemnity to Mr & Mrs Zardari. Please google it.

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