Inappropriate of judiciary to label senator as ‘agent of someone’: law minister

Published May 22, 2024
Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar speaks in the Senate session on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar speaks in the Senate session on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

Amid renewed heated debate in Parliament’s upper house over the judiciary and contempt of court, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on Wednesday called for the matter regarding the conduct of judges to be sent to the Senate Secretariat so that a report could be prepared for future course of action.

The Senate session today devolved into a continuation of Tuesday’s session that saw multiple lawmakers use their privilege as parliamentarians to assail the conduct of judges, with Senator Faisal Vawda moving a privilege motion against a sitting Supreme Court judge despite the issuance of contempt notices to pliable politicians who had criticised the judiciary for its supposed failings.

During a hearing last week, Justice Athar Minallah of the Supreme Court had taken exception to remarks passed by Vawda against the judiciary in a recent press conference, regretting that judges were being threatened through “proxies”.

In response, the independently elected senator, who is under contempt notice from the SC, said the judge’s remarks “damaged not only his integrity but that of the house too”.

Vawda had claimed the judge labelled him a proxy without any evidence, adding that the term was used out of prejudice and bias against him.

PML-N Senator Irfan Siddiqui had picked up where Vawda left off, saying that the superior judiciary had a history of “garlanding violators of the Constitution”.

“Who gave them the privilege of labelling someone as Sicilian mafia, Godfather or proxy?” he had asked, rhetorically. Siddiqui said articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution were for lawmakers and asked how many judges it had been applied to.

Speaking at the end of today’s Senate session after Senators Talal Chaudhry, Faisal Subzwari, Aimal Wali Khan, Mohsin Aziz and Kamran Murtaza aired contrasting thoughts over the issue, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman, who was presiding over the session, told the law minister that Vawda had raised an issue and called for it to be brought to its logical conclusion with a report from the Senate Secretariat.

“We will all be able to work better if institutions work within their limits. Now take this issue to its logical end,” Rehman said.

Speaking after her, the law minister clarified that as a government representative, the issue was not about a “clash of institutions” and went on to laud Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa.

Reiterating his recent criticism of remarks uttered by Islamabad High Court Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani in a case about a missing Kashmiri poet, the minister said: “I own every word of mine. The Constitution does not allow any court to utter whatever it wants in anger,” referring to the judge’s warnings of summoning the prime minister and federal ministers over the issue.

Tarar said it was no way to conduct court proceedings, saying that whatever the judge intended should be carried out through orders and verdicts.

He said the Parliament was the supreme institution and called on the lawmakers to respect themselves and that of their associated institution by speaking and protecting their rights.

He quoted the Constitution as stating that all institutions must work within their limits and domain.

“The members of this house are also respected. To unnecessarily say that someone is an agent of so and so is inappropriate.”

“I respectfully request that this matter be referred to the Senate Secretariat. It has capable officers present and they can always prepare a report on all our talks so far and refer it to the Senate chairman for future course of action and that matter can be placed before the house.”

The development comes a day after Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl MNA Noor Alam Khan submitted bills on repealing the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, and banning the appointment of a person with dual citizenship as a judge or an officer of the court.

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