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Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in a group photo with the advocates after a Roll Signing Ceremony at Supreme Court Registry in Karachi.   — Photo by APP

KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Saturday the Constitution embodied the will of people and empowered the Supreme Court to strike down any law which encroached upon the constitutionally-guaranteed basic rights of citizens.

Addressing a ceremony of newly-enrolled advocates for the Supreme Court at the Karachi registry, he referred to a misconception regarding the supremacy of parliament, saying the apex court was empowered under Article 8 to strike down any law which was in conflict with the Constitution.

The CJP’s remarks came after the reported government move to provide immunity to legislators by amending laws pertaining to contempt of court and dual nationality.

He said even in the United Kingdom the doctrine of supremacy of parliament was declared by its highest court to be out of step with the times.

“It’s time, after 65 years of our independence, that we free ourselves from the shackles of intellectual servility to colonial norms and start adhering to our Constitution. We should only examine our own Constitution to ensure that the will of people prevails. This is the essence of a democratic system,” he said.

Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said the Constitution was supreme and it was mandatory for all Pakistanis as well as foreigners living here to respect it.

The CJP said the conviction of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani proved that every individual, irrespective of his position, was subject to the law, adding that action against the chief executive had been taken because he had not implemented the court’s orders. Justice Chaudhry, citing Article 190 of the Constitution, said all executive and judicial authorities were bound to act in aid of the Supreme Court.

He said the apex court did not take recourse to the doctrine of necessity in recent judgments.

Recalling a judgment in the Sindh High Court Bar Association case against unlawful acts of former president Pervez Musharraf after Nov 3, 2007, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said the court did not validate the acts of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from April 26 to June 19 and left it to the government to take the matter to parliament.

He said Article 5 of the Constitution required every organ of the state to be loyal to it and to obey the Constitution.