ISLAMABAD, Dec 13: A constitutional package to take the country back to the pre-emergency situation was ready with five presidential orders to be issued on Saturday, Attorney General Malik Mohammad Qayyum said here on Thursday.
The presidential orders are: Revocation of Proclamation of Emergency Order 2007, Repeal of Provisional Constitution Order, Revival of Constitutional Order, Establishment of Islamabad High Court and grant of pension benefits to judges who had either refused or had not been invited by the government to take the oath under the PCO.
Talking to media personnel at the Supreme Court, he said that with the lifting of the emergency and the repeal of the PCO, all fundamental rights would stand restored and the media would be the greatest beneficiary.
After the revival of the Constitution, the attorney general said, chief justices and judges of the Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court and high courts would have to take a fresh oath under the 1973 Constitution.
About appointment of new judges in the high courts to fill vacant posts, Mr Qayyum said the age of high court judges was being reduced to 40 years from 45 to enable young lawyers to become judges of high courts. During the Gen Ziaul Haq period, he said, judges of the age of 40 years had been appointed to the high courts and he himself had been appointed to the Lahore High Court at that age.
He refuted reports that a law was being formulated to rein in the judiciary by allowing the president to send any judge on forced leave and said that no change was being made in Article 209 (Supreme Judicial Council) of the Constitution for accountability of the superior court judges. He said the retirement age of the Chief Justice of Pakistan was also not being reduced.
“All judges of the superior courts who were not invited by the government to take oath under the PCO, or those who had declined to do so, will not be restored at all,” the attorney general said.
However, he said, deposed judges, including Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, would be granted pension benefits like the judges who had refused to take the oath under the PCO in 2000.
Mr Qayyum said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif stood disqualified for the January 8 election. Shahbaz Sharif, he added, had not appealed against the rejection of his candidature during the stipulated time, so he also stood disqualified.
He said the Islamabad High Court would start functioning on Jan 7 next year. The constitutional bar on a person to become prime minister for the third time would stay, he said.
The attorney general also denied that a proposal was under consideration to suspend local government administrators for the general elections as being demanded by some political parties.
However, he said that in his personal view if local government functionaries could influence the elections they should be suspended till completion of the electoral process.