Amendments case: SC judges hunker down ahead of this week’s verdict

All 17 judges are working in Islamabad despite start of summer vacations

Hasnaat Malik July 05, 2015
CJP Nasirul Mulk. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The country’s top judges are working overtime in Islamabad to prepare their ‘landmark’ verdict on a slew of petitions against the 18th and 21st constitutional amendments likely to be announced next week.

On June 25, a 17-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, had reserved its verdict after acknowledging various appeals in the case.

According the final cause list of the next week, all 17 judges of the top court are staying in Islamabad and will hear regular cases at the registry.

Insiders have told The Express Tribune that though the summer vacations of judges have started, they have not yet availed the leaves as they are busy in writing down their observations.

The officials said a few judges even did not visit their hometowns on the weekend and were present in the SC premises to finalise the verdict. Last week, the judges also held several meetings on the same issue. Whether the apex court will issue a short order or a detailed verdict cannot be confirmed.

Read: Military courts: SC reserves judgment on constitutional amendments

While legal experts have termed the case a landmark in the judicial history of Pakistan, senior lawyers eagerly waiting for the verdict are predicting difference outcomes.

Kamran Murtaza, a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, claimed the next 15 days were significant for the country because two important judgments having profound implications over the political system of the country were to be announced. He was referring to the verdict expected to be announced in the coming days of the inquiry commission investigating rigging allegations in the 2013 general elections.

On behalf of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Murtaza said he had suggested that parliament give the power of review to the apex court for the military courts’ verdicts but it was not accepted by the lawmakers.

Another top jurist believed the SC judgment on the 21st constitutional amendment would be interesting under the current political scenario. “After decades, we have a chief justice whose integrity and competency is beyond doubt,” he said.

Read: SC cannot strike down constitutional amendments: AGP

Active lawyer Chaudhry Faisal Hussain said the court was expected to settle some core issues. The top court, he said, will weigh in on key questions relating to the existence of a basic structure of the Constitution and whether or not the apex court has the power to set aside amendments.

He added the court might also rule on judicial reviews and the unbridled power of parliament.

Forty-two constitutional petitions had been in the Supreme Court with 29 challenging the 18th amendment and 13 against the 21st amendment.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2015.