A five-member bench of the Supreme Court examining constitutional petitions challenging the 18th Amendment on Wednesday has referred the matter to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for constituting either a larger bench comprising more than five judges or the full court for hearing the petitions, and adjourned it for two weeks.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Akram Sheikh started his arguments before the five-member SC bench led by Justice Nasirul- Mulk and comprising Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed, Justice Jawad S Khawaja, Justice Rahmat Hussain Jafferi and Justice Tariq Pervez. Sheikh submitted that no constitution in the world undermines the judiciary’s independence and sought revival of the previous system for appointment of judges as enshrined in the Constitution by striking down clause 175-A.
Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk inquired of Akram Sheikh whether he was challenging the whole article 175-A of the Constitution or some of its provisions. Justice Jawad S Khawaja remarked: “If we minus the attorney-general, law minster and a nominee of the Pakistan Bar Council, would it suffice and satisfy you?” Sheikh submitted that he was challenging the whole article 175-A, and wished that the court strike it down. Hamid Khan, counsel for the Supreme Court Bar Association pleaded that Article 68 of the Constitution and Objectives Resolution 2-A talks about the separation of judiciary from legislature.
Therefore the clause 175-A in the 18th amendment is in conflict with the Article 68 of the Constitution and Objectives Resolution 2-A. The arguments of the petitioners were continuing but Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk adjourned the hearing for two weeks after consultations with other judges of the bench and referred the matter to the CJ for constituting either a larger bench comprising more than five judges or the full court for hearing the petitions.
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