ISLAMABAD, Oct 8: Senators criticised on Monday directives of the Election Commission to parliamentarians to sign fresh declarations about their nationality in line with the Supreme Court’s decision and termed it part of “a systematic plan to ridicule politicians and erode parliament’s authority”.
A number of senators, mostly from the ruling coalition, during their fiery speeches on the opening day of the session, attacked the judiciary and accused it of “encroaching upon parliament’s domain”.
The harshest criticism on the judiciary and the EC came from Senator Farhatullah Babar, who is also spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari.
Speaking on a point of order, Mr Babar questioned under what law the MPs were being directed to file fresh declarations since they had already submitted these at the time of elections.
“If the declaration already signed is proved wrong, the legislator concerned must be punished in accordance with law but it is not lawful to ask all MPs to submit fresh declarations and that too in a humiliating manner,” he said.
He said the EC through the letter had asked the Senate secretary to summon the members individually in his office to get signature on the affidavit, verify it and then get it re-verified by a notary public.
He criticised the Supreme Court for overturning the ruling of the National Assembly speaker in the case of disqualification of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
He said on one hand the SC annulled the contempt of court law enacted by parliament and on the other hand it had resurrected the law given by military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf.
He said that parliament never had criticised the judiciary as an institution just because some of them had taken oath under the PCO. Similarly, he said, parliament should not be ridiculed for the wrong done by some of its members.
Hitting out at the chief justice, Mr Babar said the legislators did not raise the question of Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, allegedly involved in a bribe scam.
“We did not raise it and will not raise in parliament the question whether the honourable CJ knew about Arsalan’s activities,” he said.
“The parliament must wake up. We must stand up and say enough is enough,” he said.
Senator Saeed Ghani of PPP said the judges were not ready to accept recommendations of the parliamentary committee formed under the 18th Amendment for appointment of judges in the superior courts.
He suggested dissolution of the committee, if the appointments of the judges were to be made by the judges themselves.
Senator Kamil Ali Agha of PML-Q said that verification of declarations submitted by candidates at the time of elections was responsibility of the EC.