• Thu. May 18th, 2023

SC urges political dialogue to restore peace

(L-R) Justice Munib Akhtar, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan. — SC website
(L-R) Justice Munib Akhtar, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan. — SC website

ISLAMABAD: At a time when the ruling coalition government, under the banner of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), is staging a sit-in at the Constitutional Avenue, demanding resignation of Chief Justice of Pakistan, the Supreme Court Monday asked the government and opposition to play their constructive role for initiating another round of dialogue and for restoring peace in the country.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Munib Akhtar, heard the review petition, filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against the apex court order, that had set May 14 as the date for holding elections in Punjab.

Sajeel Shahryar Swati, counsel for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Attorney General Mansoor Awan and Barrister Ali Zafar appeared before the court.

The court issued notices to attorney general for Pakistan (AGP), political parties as well as advocate generals for Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) for the next Tuesday.

“Look at outside, people are jumping over the gates while the federal government is helpless; however, we will continue to fulfil our constitutional obligation and will protect the rights of people.”

During the hearing, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) secretary appeared before the court and extended its support and solidarity with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

ECP Counsel Sajeel Shahryar contended before the bench that the scope of review under Article 188 of the Constitution was not limited in matters, heard under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

“But, earlier you raised the issue of funds and security as the main reasons for not conducting elections, but did not raise the jurisdiction of the court,” the chief justice told the ECP counsel.

“Today you have opened a Pandora’s box by raising the jurisdiction issue,” the CJ continued, and questioned as to how these points could be raised that were not raised earlier.

The CJP said: “Let’s leave these points to someone else” and remarked that the ECP had no locus standi to raise such points, adding that the federation should have raised these points by filing a review petition against the apex court judgment.

The CJP, however, observed that other some other good points were raised by the ECP and asked the counsel as to how much time he would require to argue, to which the counsel replied that he would need some three to four hours.

The chief justice said the court needed to issue notices to all the parties as well as Punjab and KP to get their viewpoint.

Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), however, told the court that as the scope of the review was very limited, hence the ECP should not be allowed to argue on the scope of review.

The CJP observed that at least the ECP deserves to argue on locus standi. The PTI counsel submitted that the court had first issued judgment on March 1, and then on April 4, setting May 14 as the date for holding elections in the Punjab province.

The constitution demands that the apex court should implement its order in letter and spirit, he stated, adding that the court had already held that its judgment was final and still in field.

“We want only implementation of the apex court judgment as the government has created an environment where the Constitution has been murdered,” Ali Zafar submitted.

He submitted that after the non-implementation of the court judgment, the functioning of caretaker governments in Punjab and KP were illegal, hence the judgment of the court had to be implemented.

“We are living in a state of limbo, as the government is not sincere to implement the court judgment,” Ali Zafar contended.

The chief justice observed that when hearing was initiated in February, there was an aspect which was violated by one, but now the situation is different.

“What is being happening outside? Who will ensure adherence to Constitution,” the CJP remarked, adding that they want peace as people were losing lives, public properties were being damaged and institutions were being challenged.

“But the eyes of the Supreme Court are not closed and it will fulfil its obligation by protecting the rights of people and everyone has to contribute to maintaining peaceful atmosphere,” the CJP remarked.

“In times of crisis, Allah demands patience (sabr) but not retaliation,” the CJP remarked adding that there must be patience on part of all.

Barrister Ali Zafar contended that the Constitution was not being implemented. The CJP remarked that institutions must be respected, adding that he had seen photographs wherein people had been injured with bullets.

“Elections are the basis of democracy and democracy only functions when there is a rule of law; therefore, I would suggest to both executive and opposition to search for moral grounds and kind of devotion,” the chief justice remarked.

“I have to devote myself for enforcing the Constitution and we will enforce the Constitution as well,” the CJP remarked.

The chief justice asked the attorney general as to why the process of dialogue did not materialise. The AG replied that he had ensured more efforts to bring closer both the sides on the negotiating table, adding if more time was given, it could have yielded better results.

PTI counsel Barrister Ali Zafar contended that the government had polarised the situation to an extent that two of his companions and members of the negotiating process had been arrested, adding that the way the former prime minister was arrested from the Islamabad High Court premises was known to everybody.

“Both of you are very mature persons; attorney general being the young, but mature also, you should carry on the dialogue process,” the CJP said, adding that the court only knew that at present, there was a debate on legal points before the court, and they did not know about politics. The chief justice further observed that their only obligation was how to ensure fundamental rights, enshrined in the Constitution.

“The Supreme Court does not work mechanically, but we look at the conduct and ensure protection of rights of people of Pakistan,” the CJP remarked.

“The ball is now in your court,” the chief justice asked attorney general, adding that peace was need of the hour for protection of rights of people of Pakistan. “There must be peace and tranquillity; look at the economy that has come to halt, and people are suffering a lot,” the CJP observed, adding that there was violence from both sides.

“Who will accept the results of elections in such an environment; therefore, we want people to work together,” the CJP remarked.

The chief justice observed that the government too took the stance which was taken by the ECP today (Monday), but did not file the review petition. “When the constitution says that elections should be held within 90 days after dissolution of assemblies, then it should be ensured.

“The court gave order for holding election in Punjab on May 14, but it was not implemented,” the CJP remarked. “We expect of both sides as both are democratic parties, mature and strong, therefore, they should initiate dialogue for restoring peace,” added the CJP. Later, the court adjourned the hearing until the next Tuesday.

Source link

Leave a Reply