It was like a bolt out of the blue. The Supreme Courts order stating that the judges initially deposed by the Musharraf regime could not be denotified through an executive order the way they were brought back has puzzled a number of court-watchers. Not because the orders logic is flawed but because it remains to be seen what the need for the action was. That, too, by a full court bench past midnight.
That the motive behind the order was reports in the media that seemed to suggest that the government was considering such a move is rather odd. More odd still, is the courts directive to get an explanation from the government, not over an action of its own but over news items in an independent media. The government seems to be nonplussed, even though the information minister, in an effort not to offend the honourable court, has said the television channels that ran the reports will definitely be asked to explain the reason of airing the same. But even before the government can follow this up, the Chief Justice has taken the liberty of saying that he knows these news items are not false.
It is difficult to imagine a government as beleaguered as this one to make a decision like the one whose prospect triggered the midnight order. A step like this would have been a disaster. The medias penchant for passing hearsay as reporting and wishes as news is not known to many. Such reports should be taken with a pinch of salt. But then again, as can be seen with the not insignificant number of gaffes that this government has made in its tenure so far, it is not absolutely beyond the realm of possibilities that some legal Clausewitz within the governments own motley crew of lawyers might be pitching a bright idea or two.
There is undoubtedly a measure of friction between the judiciary and the executive. But a lot of it is being manufactured by the media. It is not becoming of mature institutions to be influenced by an increasingly sensationalist media.