The chess match between the superior judiciary and the legislature – which, in the absence of members of the opposition benches, means the executive, basically – continues.
With the deadline of the Supreme Court’s decision on conducting polls in the Punjab having lapsed on the 14th of this month, all bets were off, including, if the more alarmist of the rumour mills in the federal capital were to be believed, a dismissal of the premier.
That all has been put on hold as the government’s lawyer, Mansoor Usman Awan informed the court that a legislation critical to the case has, in fact, become the law of the land, after being signed by the President.
The law states that suo motu judgments of the Supreme Court can be reviewed by a bigger bench. The law will have retrospective effect, which means that the honourable court’s suo motu decision on April 4th regarding the Punjab polls could be challenged.
Whatever arguments for or against the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023 could be made, and there can be many, one thing is clear: the government has enacted this law only for the purposes as can be seen from above.
Similarly, the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, that seeks to, amongst other things, limit the powers of the Chief Justice, might have a lot of things going for it, but the principal motivation comes from the government being at loggerheads with the current CJP.
This is a sad state of affairs, where matters as serious as these are seen only in the light of immediate political scuffles.
For there to be recourse against a perceived injustice at the hands of a court is a good thing, warts and all. But it would have been a good thing even without the context of the Punjab polls and the government’s clear unwillingness to carry out the same.
Similarly, this should also be a moment of introspection for the court. The government, yes, isn’t quite the exemplar of democracy, and the flimsy excuses it provides to delay the Punjab polls is evidence enough of that. But the court’s allegedly partisan decisions have also had a role to play in inducing the sort of desperation that further fuels sneaky behaviour like the one explained above.