Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday said the Supreme Court's queries to better understand others' perspective should not be construed as the court's interference in the legislative process.

The chief justice made those remarks while heading a three-member SC bench hearing a case about the media commission

"Yesterday it was again asked how the judiciary could interfere with the legislative process," the chief justice said, without naming anyone.

"Parliament is supreme but there is also the Constitution above it," he said, adding that no legislation could be done in violation of the Constitution.

Justice Nisar was referring to remarks given by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the National Assembly on Monday in which he severely criticised the recent judicial activism, alleging that it was badly affecting the functioning of his government.

The prime minister had also lamented over the passing of alleged derogatory remarks by certain judges for elected representatives.

“I was not willing to say this but it had become necessary. The elected representatives of the 207 million people are being dubbed as thief, robber and mafia. Sometimes threats are being hurled that we [judges] will nullify the legislation that you [parliamentarians] have passed,” Abbasi said in his apparent reference to the ongoing hearing of the petitions challenging the Elections Act 2017 which enabled disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif to re-assume the office of the party president.

CJP Nisar also addressed this allegation, saying the court asks questions to understand issues better.

"Headlines get made when we ask questions even though our remarks are to understand each others' point of view. If we question whether or not a certain person is qualified [to hold public office] then is that akin to insulting the parliament? Is asking a question also insulting a parliamentarian?"

The chief justice said he is neither giving a clarification nor is he liable to give one, adding: "We do not want to make clarifications our weakness."

"We will not be deterred. In fact, we will, with the best of intent, utilise the power that the Constitution and the law has given us."

'We have to make Pemra autonomous'

The chief justice said during the hearing that it seems the recommendations of the media commission report about making the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) independent and subsequent government promises have seen little progress.

“The government should not command and dictate a regulatory authority such as Pemra,” said Justice Nisar. “We have to make Pemra an ideal and autonomous body.”

The court then directed the deputy attorney general to submit a report about steps taken for Pemra's independence after consultation with the Prime Minister's Office and relevant ministries.

The court also issued notices to all media houses, directing them to submit their reports on payment of employee salaries within seven days.


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