ISLAMABAD, Feb 13: It was a day of severe setback for Dr Tahirul Qadri. The Supreme Court showed him the door by throwing out his petition seeking reconstitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan.
However, he narrowly escaped the charges of contempt for his unnecessary and controversial demeanour inside the Courtroom-1 on Wednesday.
But before leaving the court premises empty-handed amid slogans raised by his supporters, Dr Qadri cast aspersions on Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry inside the court.
“Is this not your picture taking oath from (former president Pervez) Musharraf,” asked Dr Qadri showing a June 30, 2005, picture of the chief justice and the former president. “You (CJ) are still sitting in the court under the PCO (Provisional Constitution Order) oath,” alleged a visibly agitated Dr Qadri.
“If you want to address the press, go and do it outside (the courtroom),” Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said, adding that this was not permitted inside the court.
Taking oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth was better than taking oath under the dictatorship of Gen Musharraf, Dr Qadri shouted in his typical style and accused the court of asking political questions about his credentials for the third consecutive day.
“Verdict has already been given through observations,” he regretted and said he would not proceed further without a ruling on the question whether a dual national had the right to approach the court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution or was he a third grade citizen of this country.
“We may consider proceeding against you for undermining the Supreme Court,” the chief justice said, adding that Dr Qadri was taking liberty and making mockery of the court.
“There is no bar on a dual national from coming to the court; rather such kind of questions asked by the bench is mockery of the court,” Dr Qadri retorted.
In its short order, the court said Dr Qadri had hurled uncalled for aspersions on a member of the bench which was prima facie tantamount to undermining its authority and calling for action against him for contempt under Article 204(3) of the Constitution read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003.
But the court decided to exercise restraint by not proceeding against him following the principle that such jurisdiction should be exercised sparingly on a case-to-case basis.
Soon after the announcement of the judgment, a dejected Dr Qadri vented his frustration before the media and said through the verdict the apex court had questioned the loyalty of over three million overseas Pakistanis whose remittances were the basis of essential government expenditures.
During the proceedings, Dr Qadri repeatedly complained about what he called his media trial over the past several days.
PETITION DISMISSED: “Dr Qadri has failed to make out a case for exercising the discretionary jurisdiction by this court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution,” the order said, adding that he had neither listed in the petition nor established during the hearing violations of any fundamental right.
“The petitioner has also failed to prove his bona fide to invoke the jurisdiction of this court as under peculiar circumstances he has no locus standi to claim relief as has prayed for in the petition. For being a holder of dual citizenship, he is not qualified (disqualified) to contest the election to parliament in view of the bar under Article 63(1c) of the Constitution, interpreted by this court in the 2012 dual national case.
“However, it is loudly and clearly observed that as a voter like other overseas Pakistanis whose names have been incorporated in electoral rolls, he (Dr Qadri) can exercise his right to vote as this right is recognised under the Constitution and has also been held by this court in the 1994 Yasmin Khan case. Thus, the petition is dismissed,” the order said.
LOCUS STANDI: During the proceedings, Attorney General Irfan Qadir supported Dr Qadri on the question of locus standi, but expressed his reservations over the cases cited by the petitioner in his defence like the July 31, 2009, judgment under which 108 superior court judges were sacked.
“I do not subscribe to the cases since the bar councils and associations have passed resolution against the judgment. Besides, in my opinion both the July 31, 2009, and dual nationality verdicts were unconstitutional,” he said.
But he said the court had the right to ask why the petitioner had come after so much delay and whether he had come with clean hands.
Talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court, rights activist and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jehangir said the court could question the bona fide of a petitioner and ask to distinguish which fundamental right of the petitioner had been breached.
Such petitions should be dismissed in two hours and not in three days, she said, adding that Wednesday’s case was different from previous ones where credentials of the petitioners had never been asked like in the case of memo scandal.
Ms Jehangir suggested that busy bodies should be discouraged from filing petitions and said showing the photograph of Gen Musharraf was not appropriate. “We never did this despite the fact that we always get a hostile judiciary,” she said.
Former deputy attorney general Raja Mohammad Irshad suggested that the Supreme Court should examine on its own the questions raised by Dr Qadri since these were serious questions to shut the doors on others, especially when the general election was round the corner.