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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Reference against CJP

OpinionReference against CJP
By: Asem Mustafa Awan

The ruling coalition has formed a government committee to file a reference against Chief Justice Supreme Court Justice Umar Attabandial. The National Assembly with half the seats vacant has passed a resolution to file a misconduct reference against the CJP. Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) is a coalition of 13 parties that apparently voted out the former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Now the alliance is facing a challenge of political survival in the event of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) absent from the parliament still gaining popularity.

In the last elections, the PDM parties took less votes than the PTI. Experts believe that if the PDM had not sent Imran Khan’s government through no-confidence motion in April 2022 PTI itself would have been politically weakened with each passing day.
Chief Justice Umar Attabandial wrote in his judgment that by rejecting the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri violated his constitutional responsibility. He said that the April 3 ruling of the Deputy Speaker failed to fulfill the conditions of protection of internal proceedings of Parliament under Article 69 (I) of the Constitution, because, Qasim Suri’s decision was not the result of a vote in the National Assembly but a unilateral ruling. Chief Justice Umar Attabandial on behalf of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri referring to the American cipher said that the text of the cipher was not shown to the Supreme Court. At that time, all the leadership of PDM, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had described the decisions of the Chief Justice as a supreme example of justice.
Eventually, the differences between the government and the judiciary surfaced when the Supreme Court annulled the Election Commission’s decision not to hold elections in Punjab. The Supreme Court annulled the Election Commission’s decision of March 22 and ordered elections to be held first on April 30 and then on May 14 in Punjab. The Supreme Court declared that holding elections within ninety days of the dissolution of the assembly is a constitutional requirement that must be followed. In its decision, the Supreme Court directed the federal government to provide Rs 21 billion in funds to the Election Commission by April 10. At the same time, SC ordered the Election Commission to submit the report on the availability of funds to the Supreme Court on April 11. The Election Commission submitted a report that the government has not provided the funds.

There are many senior politicians who understand the role of the Constitution, Parliament, and Judiciary besides the caretaker setup. But surprisingly, these individuals preferred vested political interests over the Constitution.

The government has also passed a bill to reduce the powers of the Chief Justice Pakistan regarding suo moto notice and formation of the benches, which the apex court has declared ineffective till the hearing of the relevant case by the Supreme Court.

The survival of the ruling coalition is at stake. It praised Chief Justice and the Supreme Court a few months ago when the decision favoured them but now the situation is other way round and the same Chief Justice is being criticized for upholding the law and constitution.

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