LAHORE, June 28: The Pakistan Bar Council on Saturday made public the draft of its white paper, dissenting with the superior courts’ verdicts given in the post-October 1999 period, specially in connection with the government’s actions regarding the Legal Framework Order, president’s uniform, judicial appointments, presidential referendum and general elections.
The 83-page document, which was prepared by PBC member Mohammad Yaqoob Leghari and Supreme Court Bar Association’s president Hamid Khan, was referred by the legal fraternity as the first-ever white paper to be published on the judiciary’s role in the country’s history. Initially, some 1,500 copies of the white paper have been printed by the PBC.
The PBC’s white paper refused to accept chief justice of Pakistan Sheikh Riaz Ahmad and four other judges — Justice Qazi Mohammad Farooq of the Supreme Court, Justice Raja Mohammad Sabir of the Lahore High Court, Justice Mohammad Ashraf Leghari of the Sindh High Court and Justice Abdur Rauf Khan of the Peshawar High Court — as serving judges for having availed the three-year extension granted under the LFO.
The judicial appointments made after October 1999 had been flayed in the paper which alleged that a junior judge of the LHC was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court in violation of the SC judgment of March 20, 1996. “Five judges of the accountability courts were appointed as LHC judges during 2002 and the seniority of these new incumbents was totally ignored by the authorities concerned while making such appointments,” the white paper claimed.
The appointment of Justice Irshad Hassan Khan (retired) as Chief Election Commissioner has also been criticised besides being termed an “attempt by the military regime to safeguard its interests during last year’s presidential referendum and general elections”.
The CJ administered oath of president to Gen Musharraf before October 2002 general elections which was an extra-constitutional step, the draft white paper stated.
The document further alleged that former military regime wanted the district and sessions judges (DSJ) of questionable repute to be appointed as the district returning officers for the last general elections. It was claimed in the document that majority of the DSJs and other judicial officers reinstated or transferred during the pre-poll period were those sidelined by former chief justice of the LHC Falak Sher on corruption charges.
The LFO was mentioned as being “an effort to subvert the 1973 Constitution by a military ruler under the dubious authority conferred on him by the SC which itself did not have such powers”.
The paper said the inclusion of provisions relating to president’s powers to dissolve the assemblies, simultaneous holding of both offices of the army chief and president by one person, three-year extension in the superannuation age of judges of superior courts and the constitution of the National Security Council (NSC) in the LFO was aimed at enslaving the Constitution and people’s will.
The SCBA president Hamid Khan claimed on Saturday that the entire lawyers community had worked very hard to gather the facts incorporated in the white paper and nothing personal had been said regarding the superior courts judges.
“We are ready to face the consequences of publishing this paper though we believe we have released the entire information for common citizen’s knowledge without exaggeration,” he responded when asked whether the certain contents of the white paper were contemptuous.