IHC CJ rebukes Sheikh Rashid over plea of ‘political nature’

Published September 27, 2022
<p>Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid at the Islamabad High court on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV</p>

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid at the Islamabad High court on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah on Tuesday admonished Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid for filing a petition of a “political nature”.

The former interior minister had filed a petition last week, contending that the appointment of a 72-member cabinet was a violation of Article 92(1) of the Constitution.

The petition stated that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s cabinet included 34 federal ministers, seven state ministers, four advisers, and 27 special assistants and urged the court to set aside appointments that exceeded the prescribed limit.

Hearing the plea today, Justice Minallah said: “If such a petition is filed again, we will impose an exemplary fine”.

He added that the court respected parliament and did not unnecessarily interfere in the authority of the executive. “If any of your individual, fundamental rights are affected, then certainly approach the court. But not like this,” he told Rashid.

The IHC CJ termed Rashid’s petition “baseless”, reiterating his warning of imposing a fine. “We can impose a fine on you, but we are showing restraint.”

He told the AML chief to take his fights to parliament. “There is no forum bigger than parliament.”

“Sheikh sahib, we respect you. Please keep courts away from these political matters,” Justice Minallah remarked. “Don’t disrespect parliament any further. It is this mindset that damages parliament.”

At this, Rashid’s counsel contended that there was no other forum to approach other than the court on the matter raised in the plea.

Justice Minallah, however, stated that such petitions should not be filed in court.

“Parliament has already been disrespected […] There are elected representatives in parliament and it is the [right] forum. The court will not interfere [in the matter],” he said.

At that, Rashid said he was willing to withdraw his plea.

But, Justice Minallah said he would be issuing an order in the case and suspended the session.

After the hearing, Rashid shared the IHC CJ’s remarks with the media and said his petition would probably be dismissed.

To a question about the prospects of him returning to the National Assembly, he said he was an ally of PTI chief Imran Khan, who would take a decision in this regard.

“If Imran Khan says, I will go [to the National Assembly]. If he doesn’t, I will not,” Rashid said.

The plea and Article 92(1)

In his petition, Rashid contested the appointment of 72 members to PM Shehbaz’s cabinet, particularly challenging the appointments of the premier’s aides.

He contended that the appointment of a 72-member cabinet was a violation of Article 92(1) of the Constitution.

The said section states: “The President shall appoint federal ministers and ministers of state from amongst the member of [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) on the advice of the prime minister.

“Provided that the number of federal ministers and ministers of state who are members of the Senate shall not at any time exceed one-fourth of the number of federal ministers.

“Provided that the total strength of the Cabinet, including ministers of state, shall not exceed 11pc of the total membership of Majlis-i-Shoora (Parliament)”.

The petition stated that the prime minister’s cabinet included 72 members, comprising 34 federal ministers, seven ministers of state, four advisers, and 27 special assistants.

It prayed the court to set aside the appointments of the PM’s aides that exceeded the prescribed limit.

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