KARACHI - As the government prepares to declaw the superior judiciary with a new legislation on contempt of court law and continues with its trumpeting of parliament being supreme and subversive to none, Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Saturday exhibited the judiciary’s iron fist in a velvet glove, saying the country’s constitution, not parliament, was supreme.
The CJP gave a veiled hint that the apex court could strike down any law repugnant to the constitution.
Addressing lawyers during a ceremony at the Sindh High Court (SHC), he said the question of parliament’s supremacy over the constitution was unjustified.
Justice Chaudhry said Article 8 empowered the superior courts to strike down any legislation that encroached upon the basic rights of the citizens, and it could also strike down any law that was in conflict with the constitution.
The CJ said whatever position or post one held, the law was same for all. “Action on contempt of court was taken against the chief executive for not obeying the court order and he lost his position,” he added.
The chief justice said Article 2(A) of the constitution was the guarantor of judiciary’s independence. “The courts of the country are under the constitution. There would be no compromise on protecting the independence of judiciary,” the CJP added.
He said obeying the law was necessary whatever consequences it entailed, adding that it was incumbent upon lawyers and judges to protect independence of the judiciary.
The CJP said Pakistani laws were not a continuation of the British system, however, the decisions which were being made on arguments of lawyers had become the ideology of the future. The chief justice said only a free and independent judiciary could ensure that the will of the people was enforced in its true spirit. He called upon the newly-inducted advocates to provide assistance to the court as it was their able assistance that enabled the judges of the apex court to deliver good judgments.
NRO case: Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Saturday announced setting up a five-member bench to hear the NRO implementation case on July 12.
Sources said the attorney general of Pakistan would submit the prime minister’s reply to the issue of reopening cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will be heading the bench that comprises Justice Ijaz Afzal, Justice Ijaz Chaudhy, Justice Gulzar and Justice Atahar as members.