The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a Constitutional petition filed by judges who took an oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) in defiance of a restraining order issued by a larger bench after the imposition of the Musharraf-era emergency in the country.
The petition, filed by Shabbar Raza and Hasnat Ahmed Khan, had requested a seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar to review the July 31, 2009 order removing the judges who had taken oath under the PCO and sought the restoration of their pensions and privileges.
The petitioners maintained that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was given a chance to be heard in the case, but the same privilege was not accorded to the sacked judges.
Addressing CJP Nisar, Khan said that the judges had simply been issued notices and not heard, and now do not even receive a pension from the state.
The CJP subsequently asked the petitioners to apprise the court of the circumstances surrounding their case.
The petitioners and their lawyer Ali Sibtain Fazli told the court that Musharraf had removed former CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry from his post in March 2007. On Nov 3, 2007, the former dictator had imposed an emergency and introduced the PCO, but a larger bench under Chaudhry had ruled against the move and ordered the judges not to take an oath under the impugned law, the petitioners said.
After Chaudhry was reinstated, he ordered on July 31, 2009, that the judges who had taken oath under the PCO be sacked and contempt of court proceedings be initiated against them, they said.
On Sept 11, 2011, a three-judge SC bench had asked whether contempt of court was applicable to judges. Former CJP Jawwad S. Khawaja in the written order had said that the law mentions the word 'individual', and that apex court judges also count as individuals, which is why contempt of court is applicable to them as well, the petitioners said.
Hearing the petitioners, CJP Nisar asked whether it would be possible to end the issue by taking back the contempt of court notice, to which Fazli said the judges had filed a Constitutional petition that the decision against them was against the law and could not have been issued.
The lawyer added that they had filed an appeal earlier, but the SC registrar had reservations over the petition, so it was not heard.
The petitioning judges attempted to say more, but were stopped by CJP Nisar who asked them to avoid saying anything that could damage the reputation of the court.
The larger bench then rejected the petition, terming it non-maintainable.