ISLAMABAD: As the government attempted to curb the powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the National Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution asking the Supreme Court (SC) to “refrain from interfering in political and administrative affairs” and called for the formation of a full SC bench to hear constitutional matters.
Through the resolution, read out by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb in the rare presence of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the lower house of parliament called for “non-interference” in the matters related to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), besides demanding same-day elections in the country under impartial caretaker set-up in line with Article 224 of the Constitution.
“This house believes that an unnecessary intrusion of the judiciary in the political matters is the main cause of political instability,” said the resolution, adding, “The House endorses the decision of four judges of the apex court in the suo motu case relating to holding elections and supports their opinion, hoping that the SC would refrain from meddling into the political and administrative matters of the country.”
It further said: “No infringement to be made to the constitutional rights of the ECP and the Commission should be allowed to hold elections as per its prerogative under favourable conditions.”
The bill and the resolution were tabled by the government in the assembly after the lawmakers during one-sided proceedings delivered fiery speeches in which they lambasted the superior court over “judicial activism” and the formerly ruling PTI for allegedly trying to spread anarchy in the country.
Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf facilitated the government by giving ample time to the members to speak in an apparent effort to drag the session, which continued till night, in order to provide time for the federal cabinet to discuss and approve the draft of the proposed law.
The debate was formally initiated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif after the suspension of the 65-point private member’s day agenda.
Mr Sharif hit out at the judiciary and Imran Khan and asked the parliamentarians “to decide if they want to continue with the prevailing law of the jungle in the country or legislate for upholding the rule of law”. He also made talks with Mr Khan conditional to the latter’s public apology for his past action.
The prime minister termed as “a ray of hope the 4-3 decision” of judges in a suo motu case regarding elections that dismissed the proceedings contending that the CJP did not have the power to restructure benches without the consent of the respective judges.
He also urged the CJP to carry out the forensic analysis of the audio of a sitting judge in which he could be heard discussing political matters.
After Mr Sharif, every member who took the floor castigated the judiciary and the PTI and called for establishing parliament’s supremacy.
The only defence of Mr Khan came from PTI MNA Saleh Shah. Saira Bano of the GDA stated that her party would not support the government’s move to clip the SC’s powers.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2023