ISLAMABAD: The opposition in Senate was cautioned against targeting institutions after the judiciary came under criticism on Monday for endorsing four martial laws and over its failure to act against violators of the Constitution.
The rare criticism came during discussion of a motion on the plight of thousands of employees made redundant through the Supreme Court judgement declaring the Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Act of 2010 ultra vires of the Constitution.
While the opposition members asked the apex court to review its judgement from a humanitarian angle, the Leader of the House in Senate, Dr Shahzad Wasim, said the government would file a petition seeking review of the decision as it had rendered almost 18,000 people jobless.
He said one can give a dissenting opinion about the judiciary’s verdicts, but it would be inappropriate to target the institution.
Without naming former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, he recalled that it was the judiciary which had allowed a “certified criminal” to go abroad to ‘get medicine’.
Govt to seek review of verdict that threw 18,000 people out of job
Dr Wasim said the PML-N had sacked the employees in question in 1997-98, but today it was sympathising with them. He chided the party for showering praise on the PPP, even though it knew that it would not return to the PDM fold. “The Pakistan Democratic Front is nothing more than a mummy.”
Earlier Irfan Siddiqui, a PML-N lawmaker, described as contempt of parliament the Supreme Court judgement declaring an act of the legislature ultra vires of the Constitution.
“The nation has to hang its head in shame after taking a look at `the role played by the judiciary since the establishment of Pakistan’,” Mr Siddiqui observed.
He went on to say the judiciary neither defended the Constitution nor did it side with the nation and parliament after four military rulers imposed martial law. “All of us know at whose side they were,” he said.
The lawmaker said it was a matter of regret that the judiciary had never held accountable the military rulers and other “influential law-breakers”.
“The judiciary can’t see bigger crimes like abrogation of the Constitution and other acts of dictators.”
He wondered as to why the parliament was so weak that a law made by it was thrown out by a judge on the last working day before his retirement.
Mian Raza Rabbani, a former Senate chairman, suggested the government go for legislation to reinstate the employees who lost jobs after a verdict by an outgoing judge.
He also called upon the government to disclose details of the IMF agreement, wondering if downsizing and retrenchments were a part of the package.
Saadia Abbasi of the PML-N said she wanted to know which article of the Constitution the reinstatement act had violated. Terming it a humanitarian issue, she called for a review.
Speaking earlier, PPP Senator Taj Haider said the poor either look up to parliament or the judiciary, but the latter had even validated military rule under the doctrine of necessity.
“With utmost respect, I want to draw attention of the honourable court to Article 38 of the Constitution, which is about promotion of social and economic well-being.
“When the court was giving this judgement and declaring the (reinstatement) act as against the Constitution, why it did not have a look at this article,” Mr Haider observed. “There are several other articles to this effect,” he added.
The PPP lawmaker then cited Article 31 regarding the Islamic way of life, but questioned why were then the rich becoming richer and the poor poorer and what the judiciary was doing about it.
Senator Haider made an appeal to the judiciary to form a larger bench and review the matter from a humanitarian, Islamic and economic point of view in order to save thousands of jobs.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2021