The Pakistan Supreme Court “has flouted all canons of Constitutional Jurisprudence”

Justice Katju: “The Prime Minister holds office as long he has the confidence of Parliament, not confidence of the Supreme Court.”

Justice Markandey Katju, former Justice, Supreme Court of India and presently Chairman, Press Council of India just sent me an article about the recent order of the Pakistan Supreme Court declaring that Mr. Gilani is not the Prime Minister. Justice Katju writes, “In my opinion the Pakistan Supreme Court has gone totally overboard, flouted all canons of Constitutional Jurisprudence, and is only playing to the galleries and not exercising judicial restraint. It is thereby upsetting the delicate balance of power in the Constitutional scheme.”

In his article, Justice Katju explains the concept of immunity and stresses the need for balance between the organs of the state. He writes that it may be published freely in any newspaper: Continue reading

The contempt conviction in context: Pakistan – a political timeline

File photo of Pakistan's PM Gilani speaking during a news conference at CHOGM in Perth

A 30-second ‘convict’ for ‘contempt of court’: Gilani. Reuters photo.

On Tuesday, June 19, the Supreme Court of Pakistan in an unprecedented judgement disqualified Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani from his membership of Parliament, also barring him from contesting elections for five years.

The Court had on April 26, 2012, symbolically ‘convicted’ Gillani for contempt of court for less than a minute, due to his failure to ask Switzerland to reopen a corruption case against President Zardari, on the grounds that the president enjoyed immunity as head of state. According to some legal experts, as a ‘convict’ Gilani could no longer hold office. Continue reading

‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

The equation as it should be: Army following policies set by the civilian elected government, not the other way round. (Reuters file photo)

What is ‘Memogate’? The ‘memo’ in question is a letter allegedly written at the behest of Pakistan’s President by the Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, asking USA to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Haqqani denied the allegations, sent in a letter offering to resign in order to facilitate an impartial inquiry, and returned to Pakistan to clear his name. Instead, he found his resignation letter accepted. The Supreme Court barred his exit from Pakistan. He has been forced for his own safety to confine himself first to the Presidency and then to the Prime Minister House. On Dec 30, 2011, The Supreme Court in response to a petition against the ‘memo’ formed a three-member judicial commission to look into the matter that the media has dubbed as ‘memogate’.

Asma Jahangir, counsel for Husain Haqqani and former Supreme Court Bar Association President, has refused to appear before the commission saying that she does not trust the judiciary. She has said that instead of forming a commission to create or produce new evidence the Supreme Court should have looked into the evidence placed before it to decide whether there was a prima facie case and whether the court could proceed to enforce any fundamental rights by making a binding order. Continue reading

Gojra and education, conspiracy theorists and judicial activism

‘Gojra and education’ – Zubeida Mustafa correctly identifies economic rivalries and the education rot as the major factors at the root of what are termed ‘communal’ or ‘religious riots’ – not just in Pakistan but also in India. What is also disturbing is how very easy it is for the perpetrators of such crimes to incite people in the name of religion – Dawn oped, 12 Aug, 2009 – http://tinyurl.com/zm-gojra

‘In defence of reason’ - Nadeem Farooq Paracha takes on Pakistan’s king of conspiracy theorists, Zaid Hamid (who after the Mumbai terror attacks held forth on his talk show about the ‘real’ identity of the gunmen. According to him, the red thread around the wrist of one of them proved his Hindu identity – but that he was in fact a Sikh, whose name Hamid disclosed). Dawn, Aug 11, 2009 – http://tinyurl.com/nfp-reason

‘Days of judgments’, by Asma Jahangir – A warning from Pakistan’s most well known human rights activist and lawyer: ‘Musharraf’s head may roll in the streets of Pakistan on charges of treason but that could also open the doors for bigoted nationalists to put a few others in the dungeons of Pakistan on dubious charges of treason’ – The News, op-ed, Aug 12, 2009 – http://tinyurl.com/knq5kv

‘Power with responsibility’ - by Haris Gazdar: The Supreme Court’s ruling on July 31 striking down some of the actions taken by former President Musharraf as unconstitutional has been hailed as historic. This is hyperbole. What is more important is how the judges and their supporters plan to use the power they are acquiring with respect to the key challenges facing the state and society. Dawn, op-ed, 06 Aug, 2009 – http://tinyurl.com/mu9anv

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