Coalition rejects SC order, vows to put up resistance on all forums

Published April 6, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the heads of coalition parties in Islamabad on Wednesday. — PID photo
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the heads of coalition parties in Islamabad on Wednesday. — PID photo

• Looks to secure NA endorsement against top court’s decision
• Considers filing reference against three SC judges who announced polls verdict

ISLAMABAD: Categorically rejecting a recent decision of a three-member bench of the Supreme Court in the Punjab elections delay case, the ruling coalition on Wednesday devised a counter-move to resist the verdict on all forums, including the parliament, where a resolution is likely to be tabled on Thursday (today) to endorse the government’s stance.

The coalition partners have also considered filing a reference against the three judges of the apex court — Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — who were part of the bench that on Tuesday fixed May 14 as the date for polls in Punjab after setting aside an Election Commission order.

The decisions were made in an important meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by the heads of ruling parties.

The virtual meeting, which thoroughly reviewed the decision of the apex court, was attended by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif from London, former president Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and other members of the federal cabinet also attended.

“Members of the National Assembly had debated the issue in the ongoing session and a resolution had already been passed, while another resolution would be tabled in the house” on Thursday, the prime minister said in his opening remarks.

“The purpose behind holding the meeting of coalition parties is to mull over the situation and evolve a solid response,” he added.

Describing the decision of the three-member Supreme Court bench as “a mockery of the Constitution and laws” of the country, the premier said it could not be implemented.

The three-member bench had rejected the appeal to form a full court and similarly, political parties’ pleas were also rejected, he added.

In its decision on Tuesday, the three-judge bench headed by CJP Bandial not only bound the ECP to hold elections in Punjab on May 14 but directed the government to arrange the required funds of Rs21 billion and ensure foolproof security for the polls.

The prime minister elaborated that last week, they held a detailed meeting, followed by two cabinet meetings and parliamentary meetings over the evolving situation.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday told Shahzaib Khanzada of Geo News the meeting endorsed that the verdict of the three-member bench was a decision of minority judges as four judges of the Supreme Court had already given their judgement against taking suo motu notice in the case.

“The verdict of four judges is the real decision,” he added.

“Today’s meeting decided that the government’s stance (regarding the non-implementation of three judges’ decision) will be presented before the National Assembly on Thursday and seek the endorsement of the parliament,” Mr Sanaullah said.

He said the government’s legal team gave a detailed briefing to the coalition partners and termed the decision of the three-member bench “controversial, incomplete and non-implementable”.

The meeting, he said, decided that the government would never bear any “insult” and “disrespect of the parliament”.

Asked if the government would file a reference against three judges in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the interior minister said that the option was considered in the meeting but a final decision might be taken in upcoming meetings.

To a question that the government’s rejection of the apex court’s decision by passing a resolution in the National Assembly might set a wrong precedent, the minister said that not all decisions of the Supreme Court could be challenged in the parliament and the one the government was opposing was in fact a verdict of minority and not by majority judges.

“It is a unique case in which a nine-member bench was formed first and was later reduced to seven, five, four and at last three judges,” he added.

Asked that the Supreme Court could remove the entire federal cabinet, including the prime minister, for contempt of court, Mr Sanaullah said: “If this will be the case, the court will have to remove the entire parliament because we are going to endorse our stance from the parliament.”

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2023

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