‘Judicial review of laws made by parliament acceptable’

Express April 29, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) does recognizes the judiciary’s right to review all laws made by the parliament and will not hesitate to accept any decision by the Supreme Court on the 18th constitutional amendment, a top party leader said Thursday.

“Approving the 18th amendment was a great achievement for the parliament…but with this, our party also believes that the constitution does give the Supreme Court a right to conduct a judicial review of the legislation,” member of the PML-N and opposition leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said. Speaking at a news conference in the parliament house, Nisar said his party does not foresee any confrontation between the government and the judiciary, adding ‘such apprehensions are based on hypothetical assessments’.

“There can be a difference of opinion. One or more political parties might not agree with the Supreme Court’s decision (on the amendment)…but it should not be labeled as confrontation,” Nisar said. He was referring to recent media statements by some top leaders of that any attempt by the Supreme Court to declare parts of 18th constitutional amendment null and void would be ‘disastrous’. Nisar called all such comments and reservations ‘uncalled for, unsuitable and before time’.

“Our party will never become a part of a situation that moves towards confrontation,” Nisar declared. Some half a dozen petitions in the Supreme Court have challenged a clause of the amendment that envisages to form two separate commissions— one each of technocrats and parliamentarians—to supervise appointments in the higher judiciary. The country’s top legal experts are divided on whether the court can annulled a law passed by both chambers of the parliament—the National Assembly and the Senate—by a two-third majority. But Nisar said there is no such division among the ranks and files of his PML-N.

“Obeying any order of the court is the essence of the democratic system. We won’t have any hesitation in accepting any judicial decision,” he said. The statement by the opposition leader comes in sharp contradiction of what his party’s information secretary said in an interview to a local daily. “The PML-N will not accept if the court declares the amendment or any of its parts unconstitutional,” Member National Assembly Ahsan Iqbal asserted in an interview published a week ago.

However Nisar said his party’s leader was misquoted and the PML-N has no plans to go against the apex court, which must be given ‘time and space’ to fulfill its responsibility. The opposition leader also rejected a suggestion in some media reports recently that secret agencies were actually the driving force behind the Supreme Court to challenge the powers of the parliament. “We don’t believe that the agencies are involved. And if their involvement is felt somewhere, we will expose them.”

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