PCO judges’ case: Violation of apex court judgment is a crime, says SC

Published: December 16, 2010
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Judges cannot be served contempt notices: SM Zafar.

Judges cannot be served contempt notices: SM Zafar.

ISLAMABAD: Violation of the apex court’s judgment was not just an omission, but a crime, Justice MA Shahid Sidiqui, the head of the four-judge bench of the Supreme Court hearing contempt notices against PCO judges, observed on Wednesday.

During the course of the hearing, SM Zafar, the counsel for Justice Zahid Hussain, contended that contempt notices could not be served on sitting judges. He pointed out that a number of judges were placed in a similar position to two other sitting judges of the apex court and, therefore, even on the principle of equality and fairness, such notices were not “justly motivated”.

Zafar argued that in Article 204 of the Constitution, which relates to the issuance of contempt notices, excluded Justice Shabbar Raza, Justice Hamid Ali Shah, Justice Hasnat Ahmed Khan and Justice Sajjad Hussain Shah of the Lahore High Court, Justice Jahanzeb Raheem of the Peshawar High Court, Justice Yasmeen Abbasi of the Sindh High Court and Justice Zahid Hussain, as the word “person” used in the said article did not refer to sitting judges of superior courts.

He argued that authors of the Constitution had contemplated action against judges exclusively under Article 209, only before the Supreme Judicial Council. He said that the law of contempt inheritably contemplates contempt notices being issued by a superior to a subordinate court. “The high court is not a court subordinate to the Supreme Court, nor is the apex court subordinate to any other court,” he added.

SM Zafar argued that all judges who took oaths between November 3, 2007 and March 22 last year were liable to be proceeded against in accordance with the judgment dated July 31, 2007. “There is no escape from this position,” he added.

He submitted that Article 209 is the only article under which an action could be taken against superior court judges.  “Similar provision was not made in Article 204 and the law declared that judges of superior courts are not amenable to contempt jurisdiction,” he said. The case was adjourned till January 3.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2010.

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