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Order against PCO reversed

November 07, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Nov 6: An eight-member Supreme Court bench headed by newly installed Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar on Tuesday overruled a seven-judge decision that had struck down the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) soon after its proclamation and declared that the earlier order should not be deemed to have been passed.

“The order is set aside and declared void, quorum non judice (without jurisdiction) and passed without lawful authority,” the court held.

The bench comprised Justice Mohammad Nawaz Abbasi, Justice Faqir Mohammad Khokhar, Justice M. Javed Buttar, Justice Ijazul Hassan, Justice Mohammad Qaim Jan Khan, Justice Mohammad Moosa K. Leghari and Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Yousaf.

The order came on an application of the government requesting the court to clarify that no order overturning the PCO had been passed by it and if there was such an order, it had no legal value or binding force.

The bench assembled soon after the oath-taking ceremony for four new judges to overrule the decision of the seven judges who have been removed from office under the PCO.

Justice Hassan and Justice Khan were elevated from the Peshawar High Court and Justice Leghari from the Sindh High Court, while Justice Yousaf is a former chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court.

The strength of the Supreme Court has now reached nine, compared to the earlier 19.

Acting Registrar of the Supreme Court Saara Saeed had stated on Nov 4 after publication of reports about the order striking down the PCO: “It is released for the information of all concerned that the rumour being spread that the Supreme Court has passed any order against the PCO is incorrect.”

The attorney-general argued that an unsigned order had been circulated in the press declaring that the PCO was illegal at a time when the members of the bench were not judges.

He brushed aside a perception in certain circles that martial law had been imposed, saying that the military had not taken over as the civilian governments were intact at the centre and in the provinces. The order by the seven judges had been passed without issuing notices to the petitioners, he said.

In the application, the government stated that the order published by newspapers had created confusion and had the potential of creating complications.