Coalition asks CJP to put ‘own house in order’

Published April 4, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the National Assembly on Monday. — PID photo
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the National Assembly on Monday. — PID photo

ISLAMABAD: Apprehen­ding an unfavourable decision by the Supreme Court (SC) in the polls’ delay case, the ruling coalition on Mon­day termed the proceedings by a three-judge bench “aga­inst the principles of justice”.

It asked Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial to first put his “own house in order” before asking politicians to sit together.

“Any verdict announced in haste and after ignoring the views of other judges will be a controversial decision and it will not be supported by masses,” declared Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on the floor of the National Assembly after briefing the house about the background of the case and the hearing which took place earlier in the day in the apex court.

“Even today you [the CJP] have asked (political) parties to find a way out. Bring your house in order first as dissenting voices are coming from within your own house.

PM questions Justice Bandial’s decision to sit alongside judge facing allegations

“For God’s sake, constitute a full court bench and streamline matters,” said the law minister, whose speech was later endorsed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“Today, I want to ask the SC from the floor of the house for the sake of record. If it will make a decision on a petition which has already been dismissed [by judges] with a 4-3 majority, then will it be acceptable to the people?

“Will it be worth appreciating? And will it be implementable?” said the law minister while concluding his speech made minutes after the three-member SC bench reserved its verdict on the petition filed by PTI against the postponement of the elections in Punjab.

PM lashes out at CJP

Taking the floor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif hit out at the CJP for “constantly ignoring demands” of the ruling coalition to constitute a full court bench.

Mr Sharif also regretted the CJP’s reported remarks in which he had talked about the politicians delivering speeches in the assembly who had been previously in jails, stating that the PTI government had put all the opposition members, including him, in jail on “baseless and fake charges”.

All of them were released from jail on orders from courts, he added.

The premier was referring to remarks made by the CJP on March 31, stating: “Today, when you go to parliament, you find people addressing the parliament who were till yesterday in captivity, imprisoned, declared traitors. They are now talking over there, and being respected because they are representatives of the people.”

The prime minister stated: “I want to ask [the CJP]. What message do you want to send to the nation by allowing a judge facing serious allegations to sit with you?”.

Similarly, referring to the CJP’s reported remarks earlier in the day asking the ruling parties to give in writing that they had not boycotted the court, Mr Sharif clarified that the ruling coalition in its Saturday meeting had not even used the word “boycott”.

Instead, the prime minister added, it had only expressed its “lack of confidence” in the three-member bench.

“The whole coalition government has expressed its lack of confidence in the present bench. Alas! If the CJP had constituted a full bench, minus the two judges, the nation may not find it difficult to accept the verdict,” said Mr Sharif. For such a “complicated and contentious decision” to be issued by a three-member bench was “100 per cent against the principles of justice”, Mr Sharif contended.

The prime minister, who had come to the house after presiding over a parliamentary meeting of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), accused the judiciary of having “double standards” in dealing with cases against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and those against the parties in the ruling coalition.

“Mr Khan put me behind bars twice and made a third attempt, but it failed,” Shehbaz Sharif said.

Communications Minister Asad Mehmood wondered why the Supreme Court did not take suo motu notice when the chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa dissolved the assemblies only to satisfy one person’s ego.

Mr Mehmood, who is the son of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, suggested that a committee be constituted to look into previous cases.

Mr Mehmood said former chief justices, including Iftikhar Chaudhry and Saqib Nisar, should be investigated.

“I ask CJP Bandial to show grace and distance himself from the present case,” Asad Mehmood said.

He also lashed out at PTI Chairman Imran Khan, alleging that he had been imposed by the then military establishment and the judiciary on the nation.

Walkout

At the outset of the sitting, members from Balochistan, led by Minister of State for Power Hashim Notezai, staged a token walkout from the assembly to register their protest over alleged raids by FC personnel in the province.

Later, Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf adjourned the sitting till Tuesday (today) without taking up any agenda item, except the Question Hour.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2023

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