• PML-N, PPP and JUI-F say bench must not include Justice Ijaz, Justice Naqvi
• Application filed in support of CJP’s action
ISLAMABAD: Three parties from the ruling coalition on Saturday petitioned the Supreme Court for the formation of a full court — comprising all judges except Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi — to conduct suo motu proceedings on the delay in the announcement of a date for elections to the Punjab and KP assemblies.
The joint petition, filed by senior counsel Farooq H. Naek, Mansoor Usman Awan and Kamran Murtaza on behalf of the PPPP, PML-N and JUI-F, respectively, says the prayer has been made “in the best interest of justice and to strengthen the people’s confidence in the Supreme Court”.
It is imperative that the full court — minus the two judges, who have already disclosed their minds in the matter — be constituted to hear the case in the interest of justice and fairness, contends the petition, which has been moved under Order 33 Rule 6 of the Supreme Court Rules 1980.
The petition argued that when the case was taken up by the nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Feb 23, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel read out a note and raised objections to the effect that since the two-member bench consisting of Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi had already rendered a definite opinion on the issue as recorded in the court’s Feb 16 order, it would amount to a violation of Article 10A if they remain part of the larger bench.
Justice Mandokhel, the ruling parties recalled, had further stated that it was not appropriate to refer the matter to the CJP under Article 184(3) and that the suo motu action taken by the latter was not justified. Later, the Supreme Court on the same date issued notices to the relevant stakeholders and that the applicants appeared before the court on Feb 24 through their counsel and read a joint statement, seeking the recusal of Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi from any matter involving the PPPP, PML-N and JUI-Pakistan and their leadership.
According to the petition, these circumstances have raised several questions of immense legal, constitutional and public importance as recorded in the CJP’s note while invoking suo motu jurisdiction.
Additionally, the observations made by Justice Mandokhel also raised significant constitutional questions about the manner in which the suo motu powers were to be exercised under Article 184(3) of the constitution.
‘Non-seriousness of ECP’
Meanwhile, a separate application was filed before the Supreme Court by Advocate High Court Shoukat Ali Joyia, Zahid Anwer Javed, Malik Wahab Hassan and other lawyers, seeking to become a party in the case.
The applicants pointed out that the apex court had to initiate suo motu proceedings owing to the “non-seriousness” of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the relevant quarters of the government over the matter of holding general elections in the two provinces.
It is a matter of the supremacy of Constitution, the petitioners said, adding that’s why they want to assist the court as per the sentiments of the public at large.
They contended that the joint statement filed by the three ruling parties seeking recusal of the two judges was against the law and the facts. Rather, they said, it was aimed at influencing the court which should not be permitted.
The application recalled that in the 2022 Dost Muhammad Laghari case almost the same objection/application regarding the constitution of a larger bench was turned down by the Supreme Court.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2023
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