Unprecedented in legal history: Punjabi judges boycott their own courts

By Omar Khattab in Islambad

Yesterday (15 February 2010) all the judges of the Lahore High Court boycotted their own courts in condemnation of President Zardari’s assertion of his legal right of appointing Saqib Nisar as the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court and the elevation of the present Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Khawaja Sharif to the Supreme Court. Just because the Supreme Court Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has dubbed the presidential act void, the Punjabi judges of the Lahore High Court have shed the façade of decency and respect for law which they had been wearing for some time.

According to the Constitution of Pakistan (Article 177) on the appointment of Supreme Court judges” “The Chief Justice of Pakistan shall be appointed by the President, and each of the other Judges shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the Chief Justice.”

The constitution clarifies “consultation” thus: “consultation shall, save in respect of appointments of Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, mean discussion and deliberation which shall not be binding on the President.”

Thus President Zardari is not bound by the demands of Justice Iftikhar which are illegal and criminal.

Both Justice Nisar and Justice Sharif refused to accept President Zardari’s decision. Article 206 of the Constitution of Pakistan stipulates that: “A Judge of a High Court who does not accept appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court shall be deemed to have retired fro his office”

This means that Justice Nisar has technically retired. But Justice Chaudhry wants to retain him which is yet another constitutional violation on his part.

We must not forget that after General Musharraf sacked Justice Chaudhry, it was only the Punjabi judges of the Supreme Court and the Lahore High Court who refused to take a fresh oath. All the other judges, over 60 in number, joined their positions in the Supreme Court and all the High Courts other than the Lahore High Court. Thus when Nawaz Sharif had the Punjabi judges restored in collaboration of the Punjabi generals, it was obvious that there will be a Punjabi backlash against the People’s Party which stands for Pakistan and has always confronted Punjabi fascism.

By violating the Constitution of Pakistan the Punjabi judges have once again proved that the constitution is not more than a booklet which can be thrown away or exploited as and when it suits them. After all it was Aanjhani General Zia ul Haq who, cheered on by the Punjabi judges of the Supreme Court and the Lahore High Court, said infamously: “What is this constitution? A few stapled pages which I can tear at will!”



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