THE preoccupation of the Supreme Court and the high courts with matters political, call it constitutional if you will, has its reasons but it is delaying inordinately the adjudication of private petitions and appeals. Poignancy is driven home when an appellant is waiting in a death cell and the remedy sought by a petitioner is overtaken by time.

The cost and frustration caused by the delay is best illustrated by quoting one example in each category.

First, the appeal of three young men of one family against death sentence was in the supreme court for years together while they waited on the death row.

Second, a petition against an arbitrary order of Gen Musharraf in his dying days jeopardising the right of a citizen to vote is awaiting decision by the supreme court now for more than four years.

This is how the petition has proceeded. It was made in September 2007 and was admitted for hearing by a bench headed by Justice Jawad S. Khawaja in February 2010 on the ground that the CEO’s order had ‘committed an invidious and impermissible discrimination’.

Since then the petition had come up for hearing 13 times but adjourned for one or the other reason -- more common being the absence of the attorney - general or amici curiae. For quite some time now it has not figured even in the cause list.

At one stage, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, presiding on the bench, made a very heartening observation that the petition would be decided in the next hearing. That was two years ago.

Over this period of almost five years, the electoral lists, howsoever incomplete and inaccurate, are said to have been finalised by the election commission.

The petitioner’s right to vote in the next general elections will remain in jeopardy till his petition is taken up by the court by taking time out of political wrangles.

I make bold to suggest that just one bench, and no more, should hear the constitutional/political cases of privileged politicians.

The rest of the judges should attend to thousands of pending cases of ordinary mortals.

Secondly, a bench of the supreme court should be permanently stationed at Karachi instead of making brief and uncertain visits from Islamabad.

KUNWAR IDRIS Karachi

Future

APRIL 26 was a ‘black day’ in the history of Pakistan as Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was sentenced by a bench of the Supreme Court for not writing a letter to Swiss authorities against President Asif Ali Zardari, who has immunity in the constitution.

In view of the said verdict, now anyone might summon the prime minister in the court and there would be an unending practice wherein the prime minister can be punished also.

Unfortunately, the verdict gives an impression that the judiciary has supremacy over the constitution.

This is dangerous for the future of the country. Someone should look into this.

MOHAMMAD KHAN SIAL Karachi

Hide-and-seek

WITH all respects to our highest court of the land, it appears that gradually it is now becoming a court where only cases relating to NRO, contempt cases relating to the prime minister, Babar Awan and influential politicians are being heard.

I respectfully pray to the court to realise the frustration and the hopes that the ordinary and poor litigants had when our courageous Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry got restored to his position in 2008.

ZAHID HUSSAIN BORHANI Advocate, Supreme Court Karachi

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