Islamabad - The historic movement of 2007, launched by the legal fraternity and duly supported by the media and civil society alike, was not meant for restoration of dysfunctional judges of Supreme Court alone but for independence of judiciary and for rule of law – not rule of any single person. Though the struggle culminated in restoration of the deposed judges but it left behind a trail of bitterness between executive and judiciary.
The apex court disqualified the prime minister under contempt of court law for disobedience of its orders. The parliament enacted new contempt of court act 2012, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court. The parliamentarians claimed that the parliament being law making body could pass any law. The Supreme Court asserted that it is empowered to scrutinise and review any law which is in conflict with the constitution therefore it was supreme. Both parliamentarian and the apex court pledged to protect democracy from being derailed, though the powers of two organs of states are clearly defined in the constitution.
Our ever-alert media initiated a debate – whether parliament or Supreme Court is supreme? In this tussle many legal and constitutional experts expressed their views while the case is pending in the courts. The other day, Justice (retd) Ramday addressed Lahore High Court Bar members and maintained that constitution was supreme. Just yesterday, the CJ made a statement to the effect that scrapping of the contempt bill would not lead to a constitutional crisis and the judiciary was merely protecting democracy. In all this back-and-forth, the real issue for which the battle was fought has lost its significance.
It is pertinent to mention here that without solving people’s problems such as provision of amenities of life within reasonable price, without introducing policy for generation of revenue, for economic growth, health care, educational reforms, lack of measures to protect life and property of citizens, without transparency and accountability, non-availability of rule of law all talks about promoting democracy or superiority of one or the other pillar of state becomes meaningless. If people problems persist, this struggle for supremacy merely amounts to a time-passing luxury for the privileged and powerful segments of society.