The jubilation on the striking down of legislation passed by their fellow parliamentarians was not forthcoming on the part of the opposition parties.
The country’s main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap the Contempt of Court Law 2012 – but was conspicuous by its caution.
Contrary to their usual instant statements in support of decisions against the ruling alliance, the media wing of the PML-N kept mum until they were contacted for comments.
“This law was passed in haste without consulting other parties. It was mala-fide and was due to be struck down by the courts,” PML-N Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan told The Express Tribune.
He said the government passed the law without taking the opposition into confidence, and added that even bar councils were against it. “It is a right decision and we support it,” Khan said when asked to clarify if his party was fully backing the short order.
Interestingly, the court had also scrutinised the PML-N’s walkout instead of voting against the legislation when it was in parliament. PML-N leader, and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had taken exception to the apex court’s questioning in a strong-worded statement.
Humayun Akhtar Khan, a key leader of PML-likeminded, a breakaway faction of the government-ally PML-Quaid, told The Express Tribune that it is the authority of the court to strike down any act of parliament, adding that there were various precedents for this in the past.
When asked if the supremacy of parliament was compromised by this decision, he said, “It is not the first law that has been scrapped by the courts in Pakistan. There are several examples from the past when the court struck down acts of parliament.”
However, he said the situation is different when it comes to a constitutional amendment. “I don’t remember if any constitutional amendment was struck down by the court in the country. Take the example of 18th amendment … The court had reservations over some clauses of the 18th Amendment and it had sent it back to parliament to amend it,” he said referring to the 19th Amendment.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.