In a (not so) surprise move, top judicial bureaucrats sitting in Pakistan’s Supreme Court and Lahore High Court have declared war against a fragile democracy in Pakistan. The (right-wing) establishment has taken its dagger out for a final attack on the democratic government of the (left-wing) Pakistan People’s Party.
In a decision announced in the after hours on Saturday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended the appointment of two judges by President Asif Ali Zardari.
According to Iftikhar A. Khan of Dawn newspaper,
The build-up to the suspension of the presidential order packed more suspense than a thriller. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court first suspended the operation of notifications for elevation of Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Justice Khwaja Sharif, to the apex court and appointment of Justice Saqib Nisar as acting chief justice of the LHC.`The Supreme Court staff was called in the evening before the bench hurriedly constituted by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry took up the matter, leaving most observers baffled.
It may be recalled that in violation of the Supreme Court’s own principle of seniority set out in the Al-Jihad trust case, the Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had recommended to elevate a junior judge, Justice Saqib Nisar, to the Supreme Court of Pakistan while retaining a senior judge, Khwaja Muhammad Sharif, as the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court, a recommendation which was duly rejected by the President of Pakistan.
Political circles in Pakistan point towards the role of (right wing) anti-democracy establishment behind the decision by the Supreme Court to suspend the presidential order, with an aim to create a political crisis in the country,which may lead to derailing of the democratic set up.
It may be recalled that the majority of judges currently sitting in Pakistan’s Supreme Court and Lahore High Court are of Punjabi origin, most of them are known for their loyalties to right-wing PML-N and Jamaat-e-Islami; some of them are also known to have a populist anti-West and pro-Taliban inclination.
BBC Urdu’s Analysis
Here is a worth reading analysis by BBC Urdu’s Rafaqat Ali questioning the impartiality of the CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry:
عدلیہ انتظامیہ جھگڑے میں نیا موڑ
بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، لندن
چیف جسٹس افتخار محمد چودھری جسٹس خواجہ شریف کو لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا چیف جسٹس رکھنے پر کیوں بضد ہیں اس کا کسی کو علم نہیں ہے۔
صدرآصف علی زرداری نے چیف جسٹس افتخار محمد چودھری کی سمری کے برعکس جسٹس خواجہ شریف کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کرکے سپریم کورٹ کے لیے ایسا مسئلہ کھڑا کر دیا ہے جس میں عدلیہ کی مشکلات میں نہ صرف اضافہ ہو سکتا ہے بلکہ پیپلز پارٹی کو ایک بار پھر مظلوم بن کر عوام کی حمایت حاصل کرنے کا موقع ہاتھ آ سکتا ہے۔
پیپلز پارٹی پہلے ہی ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کے دور اقتدار کے بعد سب سے لمبے عرصے تک حکومت کر چکی ہے۔
سنیچر کوصدر آصف زرداری نے چیف جسٹس کی خواہش کے برعکس لاہور ہائی کورٹ کے چیف جسٹس خواجہ محمد شریف کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کر دیا اور ہائی کورٹ کے سینئر جج جسٹس میاں ثاقب نثار کو لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا قائم مقام چیف جسٹس مقرر کردیا۔
سپریم کورٹ نے کمال سرعت کا مظاہرہ کرتے ہوئے اسی روز، چیف جسٹس کے از خود نوٹس کے بعد، بینچ تشکیل دے کر صدراتی حکم کو معطل کر دیا ہے اور فیصلہ کیا کہ اس معاملے پر مزید غور کرے گی۔
صدر کا حکم بظاہر سپریم کورٹ کے اس مشہور زمانہ الجہاد کیس کی فیصلے کی روشنی میں ہے جس کے تحت ججوں کی تعیناتی میں سینارٹی کو ملحفوظ خاطر رکھنا لازم ہے۔ اسی اصول کے تحت ہائی کورٹ کے چیف جسٹس کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کیا جانا چاہیے اور اسی ہائی کورٹ کے سینئر جج کو نیا چیف جسٹس مقرر کیا جانا چاہیے اور حکومت نے ایسا ہی کیا ہے۔
سپریم کورٹ نے خود کئی بار ججز کیس کی دھجیاں بکھیریں اور ایک بار تو لاہور ہائی کے ایک ایسے جج کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کر دیا جن کا ہائی کورٹ میں ججوں کی سینارٹی لسٹ پر سولہواں نمبر تھا۔ جب سپریم کورٹ میں ججز کیسز کی واضح خلاف ورزی کو چیلنج کیا گیا تو سپریم کورٹ نے حکم صادر کیا کہ وہ کسی جج کو سپریم کورٹ کا جج بنا سکتی ہے۔ ججوں کی تعیناتی کے سلسلے میں سپریم کورٹ نے اپنی ضرورت کےمطابق کئی متضاد فیصلے صارد کر رکھے ہیں اور شاید موجودہ سپریم کورٹ کو بھی ’پی سی او سپریم کورٹ‘ کےایک فیصلے کا بھی سہارا لینا پڑے گا جس کے تحت صدر کے اس اختیار کو مانا گیا تھا کہ وہ ہائی کورٹ کے سینئر جج کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کر سکتا ہے۔
چیف جسٹس آف پاکستان جسٹس افتخار محمد چودھری جسٹس خواجہ شریف کو لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا چیف جسٹس رکھنے پر کیوں بضد ہیں اس کا کسی کو علم نہیں ہے۔ جسٹس خواجہ شریف کو میاں نواز شریف کے دور حکومت میں لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا جج مقرر کیا گیا تھا۔
لاہور ہائی کے سینئر جج جسٹس میاں ثاقب نثار کو بھی نواز شریف دور میں ہائی کورٹ کا جج مقرر کیا گیا۔ جسٹس ثاقب نثار میاں نواز شریف دور کے وزیرِ قانون خالد انور کے جونیئر تھے اور اسی دور حکومت میں انہوں نے سیکرٹری قانون کا قلمدان بھی سنبھالے رکھا
Jamaat-i-Islami declares its support for judges
Amir Jamaat-i-Islam, Syed Munawar Hassan while praising the judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, said that it was time that the whole nation should stand behind the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Terming the decision of the President as unconstitutional, Syed Munnawar Hassan said that the Government should immediately comply with the directions of the Chief Justice of Pakistan not only in the current matter but also all his directions and orders.
He said that JI was ready to march on the Federal Capital in support of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to give strength to the court. He asked the masses to be ready for another movement for the supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law.
Source: The Nation
Leading constitutional experts support Presidential order
However, some of the leading constitutional experts in Pakistan, namely Justice (retired) Fakhruddin Ibrahim, Justice (retired) Tariq Mehmood and Ali Ahmad Kurd have supported the Presidential decision to elevate Justice Khwaja Sharif of the Lahore Hight Court to the SCP, and the elevation of Justice Saqib Nisar to the post of Chief Justice of Lahore High Court. They termed the Presidential decision as consistent with Pakistan’s constitution and also in accordance with the principle of seniority set out in a previous decision (Al-Jihad Trust case) of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. (ARY News)
Senior lawyer Ashtar Ausaf said the most senior judge of a high court could be elevated as apex court judge but for this the recommendations of CJP was paramount. Advocate Fawad Chaudhry said the notification of judges’ elevation was in accordance with constitutional provisions. He said even according to article 206 of the constitution, a judge stands retired after refusing to accept the decision of elevation. He further said that the judiciary should not become a party to the executive’s decision-making. (Dawn)
Ordinary Pakistani Citizens’ Response
Workers of Peoples Youth Organisation in Lahore protesting against the dictatorship of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry: Photo Express News
According to Al-Jihad Trust case, the Supreme Court’s judges are appointed on seniority basis. So who is right and who is wrong in this case?
Zardari wants to appoint senior most HC judge in SC. While Iftikhar Ch wants to appoint a junior judge, who is his personal friend, and to retain Justice Sharif in Lahore, who is a PML-N loyalist. Why?
Who is pushing the country to anarchy? Zardari/Gillani or Iftikhar Ch?
Zardari wants to follow the rule of law (Al Jihad Trust case) while Iftikhar wants to give favor to his friend.
Instead of blaming anyone else, think who is polluting this country. Why Iftikhar Ch is so hostile towards government? Why he is trying to pave the way for Bangladesh model government in which he becomes the President of the country?
The nation supported him although he used his authority illegally to promote his son. But it sounds that he is used to use his power illegally.
(By Aftab Ahmed)
I think PPP just wanted to let CJ act. I might be very wrong, but it seems PPP will accept the decision by judges. I think PPP just wanted to shift the responsibility to CJ. This whole routine will show CJ as having a lot of powers…painting him as the next dictator…but whatever happens…please don’t impose emergency again…
دو چیزیں ممکن ہیں :
۰ پیلپز پارٹی اس خوف سے باہر نکل آءی ہے جس کے تحت اس سے دباءو سے فیصلے کروا لیے جاتے ہیں اور بعد میں پیپلز پارٹی کو ہی مورد الزام ٹھہرا دیا جاتا ہے
۰ایستبلشمنٹ نے پیپلز پارٹی پر دباءو ڈال کر اس سے افغان پالیسی؛ انڈیا کے ساتھ تعلقات؛ اور طالبان سے متعلق فیصلوں کے جزوی اختیارات بھی واپس لے لیے ہیں اس کے بعد ایسٹبلشمنٹ نے افتخار چوہدری سے ہاتھ اٹھا لیا ہے۔ اس فیصلے کی ٹاءمنگ بھی اہم ہے کیونکہ یہ فیصلہ نواز گیلانی ملاقات کے بعد ہوا ہے۔
دیکھنا یہ ہے کہ کیا تمام سٹیک ہولڈر ایک مطلق العنان سپریم کورٹ کی حمایت کریں گے؟
(By Qais Anwar)
whats wrong with this pco cj, he gave eight years to mushrraf and gave him right to amend the constitution. when ever mushrraf will call him in president house,this pco cj will go there running, now he acts like a king.
(By Hasan Khan)
After Defense Minister’s statement, I am begining to think my initial feeling was correct, PPP trapped the CJ. PPP will loose, (exactly according to its plan). But its dividing the bar leaders, and portraying CJ as egoestic. The question of why CJ prefers one judge over the other so much might be troublesome for him. The presidency is saying No Emergency will be imposed.
Ch Iftikhar has started a personal war now. Listen to Ali Ahamd Kurd, he is openly criticizing SC, Najim Sethi said that why SC took this action at night? Now Ch Iftikar is openly involved in politics.
Lets suppose govt refused to obey SC political motivated steps, then SC will look to military. But military is already busy in operations. Who will come to help SC as Nawaz’s fishy attitude shows that he is with govt.
Lawyers are not ultimate force. Its a handful of group who likes to dance outside SC. Real force is political parties.
Only GEO and Jang group wants to kick out political system and govt has stop giving them advertisements.
(By Aftab Ahmad)
For the interest of readers, some relevant excerpts of the Al-Jehad case verdict are being reproduced here:
“The words ‘after consultation’ employed inter alia in articles 177 and 193 of the Constitution connote that the consultation should be effective, meaningful, purposive, consensus‑oriented, leaving no room for complaint of arbitrariness or unfair play. The opinion of the chief justice of Pakistan and the chief justice of a high court as to the fitness‑ and suitability of a candidate for judgeship is entitled to be accepted in the absence of very sound reasons to be recorded by the president/executive”.
علی احمد کرد نے ابھی ابھی دنیا نیوز پر زرداری کے نوٹیفیکیشن کی حمایت کی ہے اور کہا ہے کہ خواجہ شریف کو سپریم کورٹ جانا چاہئیے اور ثاقب نثار کو لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا چیف جسٹس ہونا چاہئیے
با وا جی؛
اس صورتحا ل میں کچھ اور اہم چیزیں بھی ہیں:
۰سپریم کورٹ کے حکم سے پہلے ہی خواجہ شریف اور ثاقب نثار اپواءنٹگ اتھارٹی کا حکم ماننے سے انکار کر چکے تھے اور اس کا میڈیا پر اظہار کر چکے تھے۔ پہلے اسی طرح کی حرکت پرویز مشرف نے کی تھی کہ ملازمت سے برخواست کرنے والی اتھارٹی نواز شریف کا حکم ماننے سے انکار کر دیا تھا
۰اس معاملے میں چیف جسٹس ایک پارٹی تھے لیکن انہوں نے ہی سو موٹو نوٹس لیا اور بنچ بنایا
۰چیف جسٹس صاحب دوسری بار کنفلکٹ کا حصہ بنے ہیں
۰وکلاء کی قیادت کا ایک حصہ اس معاملے پر چیف جسٹس کے ساتھ نہیں ہے۔
اس بار معاملہ کچھ اور ہے
(By Qais Anwar)
Finally, something sensible by Zardari, ab iss azaad adliya la dhakosla aik he baar mein khatam hojaye. Chief Justice has the right to interpret Constitution not make it, and Iftikhar Chaudry is willing to accept one-half of the Al-Jihad Trust case but not the other half. The reaction by Supreme Court only shows that it only has lust for power, Justice Iftikhar is as much responsible for preserving this system
Independent judicary is a myth. This judicary is baised. They came back through Sharifs and heavily favours them. I don’t know any other reason why ‘d they not prmote Kh. Sharif to Supreme court. Only reason Judicary is bent upon keeping Justise Khawaja Sharif in as CJ in Punjab hugh court is his relationship with Shahbaz Sharif. In beaucracy Supreme court wants appointments on seniority but they don’t do same in Judicary. They don’t act on what they preach.
Pakistan court strikes down president’s order
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Supreme Court suspended the presidential appointment of two top judges in an emergency ruling late Saturday that could cause a destabilizing clash between the judiciary and the democratic government of Pakistan.
As local media reported the country was headed into a political and judicial crisis following the decision, President Asif Ali Zardari’s spokesman issued a statement dismissing rumors the government was planning to declare a state of emergency.
The development will concern Pakistan’s western allies who want the country to concentrate on battling al-Qaida and Taliban militants in the northwest. The stability of the nuclear-armed nation is also key to Washington’s hopes of defeating the insurgency just across the border in Afghanistan.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the president issued the order only after consulting the chief justice. “We have always acted constitutionally,” he said. “We will take any step in future as required by the law and constitution.”
While undertaking operations against militants in the northwest, the Zardari government had been widely criticized for failing to make a dent in the country’s major economic and social problems. Elements within the military are also believed to be angry at him for being too close to the United States and longtime foe India.
Judicial bureaucrats behaving like a tribal mafia
Justice Sharif, Justice Nisar reject govt decision
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Lahore High Court Justice Khwaja Sharif and Justice Saqib Nisar, the senior most LHC judge, Saturday refused to accept the decision of the government. They made it clear that they will not go against the recommendation or instruction of Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Talking to Geo News’ senior correspondent Abdul Qayum Siddiqui, Justice Saqib Nisar said he was invited to take oath as Acting CJ of LHC on Sunday by Governor Salman Taseer, but he refused the invitation by saying: “The orders of Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry are binding for me and I will not take any step against the recommendation or instruction of the CJP.”
Earlier, President Asif Ali Zardari elevated Justice Khwaja Sharif as SC judge and Justice Saqib Nisar as Acting CJ of LHC through a notification.
Source: Geo TV
It may be recalled that both Justice Khwaja Sharif and Justice Saqib Nisar have close family relations with Mr Nawaz Sharif and Mr Shahbaz Sharif of PML-N. Both of these judges have served in various official capacities in previous governments of PML-N in Punjab.
According to a BBC report, Justice Saqib Nisar had officially refused to take oath. “I will not take oath as acting Chief Justice of LHC,” Justice Saqib Nisar told BBC Urdu in an interview. “I will do what CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asks me to.”
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira has stated that orders for the appointment of the judges were issued under constitutional provisions.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar added that the CJP had been consulted before the decision. He further ruled out any clash between the judiciary and the executive, confirming that “emergency will not be imposed.” Babar also said that no “emergency meeting” had been taking place at the presidency to discuss the judicial situation.
Further Legal Opinion
The rapidly unfolding events throughout Saturday evening also created despondency, with former SCBA president Ali Ahmed Kurd, the engine behind the two years long lawyers movement. Kurd expressed disappointment over the events and deplored that it appeared as Justice Khawaja had become the most important individual in the country. “We the people of the Pakistan want to see constitution, democracy, parliament as well as the judiciary flourished in the country,” he said adding the seniority principle settled in the 1996 Al-Jihad Trust should be honoured at all cost.
Eminent constitutional expert Fakhruddin G Ibrahim was also of the view that it would always be good that senior judge must come to the Supreme Court asking what was wrong if the senior judge was elevated. “Do not leave such matters on discretion but always respect the seniority principle,” he said.
Advocate Athar Minallah, who acted as the spokesperson of the chief justice during the two years long lawyers struggle also expressed his frustration and said that the development was infact a gift to the non democratic forces and to those who were sitting on the fence and would like to see confrontation between state institutions that could only cause irreparable loss to the country. Time has come when the members of the parliament, he said, must immediately act to ensure that no confrontation should take place and that the constitution should prevail.
Keeping in view the lego-constitutional position, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani has advised President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari to request Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to reconsider his recommendation of December 19, 2009 and had advised the president that in view of the legal position and the guidelines laid down in the Al Jehad Trust case PLD 1996 SC 324, primacy should always be given to the senior most judges in matters relating to elevation of high court judge in the Supreme Court unless found to be unsuitable by the Chief Justice of Pakistan for such elevation.
Former SCBA president Ali Ahmed Kurd said the principle had been set by the SC verdict in the Al-Jihad Trust case that the senior most judge of a high court would be elevated to the Supreme Court. Barrister Zafar Ali Khan and former SC judge Fakhruddin Ebrahim also termed the president’s decision as being in accordance with the constitution. Prominent jurist Fawad Chaudhry said the president’s decision was in accordance with the constitution. He said according to Article 206 of the constitution, the judge stood as “retired” after refusing to accept the decision of elevation. People Lawyers Forum leaders Tanvir Hashmi and Rana Sufiyan Ali said the president’s decision was in accordance with the constitution and the SC verdict in the Al-Jehad Trust case. Senior lawyer Dr Khalid Ranjha said a “vacuum is being deliberately created” to pave the way for third party interference.
Source: Daily Times