SC decision

More drama to follow

Multiple new fronts have opened up within the superior judiciary following a three-member Supreme Court deemed ‘unconstitutional’ the 22nd March ECP order postponing Punjab election till October, calling for them to be held no later than May 14. A clear division has been witnessed over the past weeks within the apex court where the CJP and his suo motu powers under article 184(3) have been questioned by a collection of brother judges who also hold severe reservations over the latter’s unbridled powers to form benches as and when he pleases. Additionally, Mr Justice Qazi Faez Isa, a vocal critic of the workings of the SC under the current CJP, expressed similar reservations through a judgment of his in another case, calling for a postponement of suo motu cases till amendments are made in the Supreme Court Rules 1980. Shortly after yesterday’s election postponement case was wrapped up, a six-member bench was abruptly constituted that held a five-minute hearing ‘closing’ justice Isa’s case. Clearly the atmosphere within the SC is tumultuous and bound to deteriorate as such a bifurcation in the superior judiciary will lead to more drama and controversy. For any workable solution to come out of this current impasse, judges have to find some common ground through dialogue to retain the integrity and credibility of the institution. Otherwise, utter chaos will prevail.

The government has been ordered by the CJP-led bench to issue funds for elections in yesterday’s decision. That seems unlikely to transpire as the state continues to maintain that both funds and security are insufficient to conduct elections on time. It has therefore rejected the decision and is continuing to request that a full court bench hear the case. No implementative action, in line with the SC’s orders, on part of the government or the ECP, is likely to be taken. This aggressive and confrontational battle between i the judiciary and the executive will escalate. It is hard to say how all of this will unfold in the coming days and weeks but it is certainly going to get uglier, with no immediate improvement in relationships, be it within the judiciary itself among judges or between the state and the SC.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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