Senior lawyers and bar association heads had an ambivalent reaction to the Supreme Court’s verdict on Friday which declared the Contempt of Court Law 2012 null and void.
Senior advocate of the Supreme Court Dr Abdul Basit felt that the apex court had exceeded its jurisdiction with the short order. “The short order is very defective because the principle of ultra vires (beyond powers) has been misused.”
However, he agreed that the essential function of the superior judiciary was to check whether any ‘strong grounds’ existed in a certain law which clashed with the fundamental clauses of the Constitution.
Former Senate chairman Wasim Sajjad believed the tension between the judiciary and the parliament is likely to intensify with this order and urged both institutions to show restraint. Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan president Yaseen Azad also said that the dispute between the judiciary and government will grow further.
“If the Supreme Court had struck down only those sections of the law which it felt were against the fundamental provisions of the Constitution … a clash between the two institutions could have been avoided.” On the other hand, Sindh High Court Bar Association president Anwar Mansoor Khan said it was the duty of the courts to strike down and treat as void ab initio (to be treated as invalid from the outset) any laws that are contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
Pakistan Bar Council member Rasheed A Rizvi also welcomed the order and said the verdict has rightly proved that parliament’s authority is limited and cannot legislate anything that goes against the fundamentals of the Constitution.
“Nobody and no law is above the Constitution,” he said.
He blamed parliament for creating a clash between two institutions. “Parliament acted like the Urdu proverb ‘Aa bael mujhe marr’ (come bull, hit me); so, it has no one but itself to blame,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.
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