ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court (SC) continued hearing of various identical petitions challenging the Contempt of Court Act 2012 Wednesday.
A five-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Tassadduq Hussain Jilani heard the petitions against the law.
The court has sought parliamentary record of the debate that took place during the passage of contempt bill. Justice Jawwad observed that different laws for the poor and the rich would lead us to disaster.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, the lawyers representing the petitioners in the case continued their arguments. Abdul Rehman Siddiqui Advocate argued that the parliament cannot legislate on a law against the fundamental rights. He continued that in the new law, the executive is given the authority over judiciary despite the fact that the judiciary’s role cannot be diminished in any case.
The new law was introduced to save people like Babar Awan, Sharjeel Memon, Malik Riaz, whose contempt of court cases were pending in the court, he added.
AK Dogar argued that according to the Constitution it is a dead law.
The court directed the counsel for the federal government, Abdul Shakoor Paracha to produce the parliamentary record.
The chief justice observed that if prime minister is not given immunity the president would not get it either.
He questioned whether the US Presidents Richard Nixon and Clinton were granted immunity.
The chief justice said that it was the foresight of the politicians that the issue was not brought up during the passage of the 18th Amendment and in turn the contempt of court law was given protection.
The chief justice moreover said that the Constitution did not allow anyone to ridicule the court on the basis of immunity. He further said that violation of any court’s order was tantamount to committing contempt.
The court asked for a record of the parliamentary proceedings that took place regarding the passage of the new contempt of court law.
In his remarks, Justice Tassadduq Hussain Jilani said that the case was being heard not because it involved influential personalities but because it involved the system.
He added that the judiciary respected the parliament but the issue was not about the parliament but about the well-being of the whole system.
Justice Khawaja in his remarks said that the new law was a matter of concern for the common man.
Also during the hearing, Abdul Rehman Siddiqui, a petitioner’s counsel, argued that the new contempt law was legislated to curtail the powers of the judiciary and was in violation of the Constitution. He moreover said that the new law contradicted with Islamic teachings.
Siddiqui added that the prime minister and officials of the government may face contempt of court cases, hence the new law had been passed with ill intentions.
He asked the court to declare the law as void and said that legislation over the contempt law was the prerogative of the Supreme Court.
Advocate Abdul Shakoor Paracha said that he had come to the Supreme Court not to defend the contempt of court law but to assist the court.