5-member larger bench to hear contempt law petitions
The five-member Larger Bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry comprises Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jilani, Justice Jawwad S Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain.
The apex court fixed July 23 as the date to commence the hearing of 13 constitutional petitions filed against the freshly inducted law of contempt of court.
It may be mentioned here that the government led by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rushed through the passage process to get the contempt law adopted by both Senate and National Assembly to save the new Prime Minister a disqualification bid by the apex court.
The petitions requested the court to make Federal Government, Prime Minister, Senate Chairman and National Assembly Speaker respondents.
The court has called Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir to assist the court in the case.
Meanwhile, the Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly on Friday expressed indifference to legislative business and held government and Ministry of Law and Justice responsible for promulgation of Contempt of Court Bill.
In their separate replies to the notices issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the custodians of the both the houses of the Parliament, adopted the stand that Ministry of Law and Justice on the directives of the government prepared the draft of any proposed legislation which was laid before the Parliament for passage.
“Moreover, government on the basis of support from majority of members gets the proposed legislative business passed by the either House of the Parliament” the reply stated. “Thus neither the Speaker National Assembly nor Chairman Senate had any business with the promulgation of any legislation”. Each reply covers only one page.
Reply submitted by Speaker National Assembly addressed the Secretary Ministry of Law and Registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Earlier, while inaugurating office of the ‘Parliamentary Reporters’ Association’ (PRA), Dr Fehmida Mirza, Speaker National Assembly, said that notice issued by the Supreme Court was being analyzed and reviewed and it would be responded after thorough analysis.
Chief Justice conducted initial hearing of the petitions against Contempt of Court Bill at Quetta Registry of the Supreme Court during his stay at Quetta last week. Then notices were issued to the federation, the Prime Minister, Speaker National Assembly, Chairman Senate, the Attorney General, the Federal Law Minister and Secretary Cabinet Division as party in the constitutional petitions filed in the court.
The petition contends that the new contempt of court law is a violation of Article 2-A of the Constitution which ensures independence of judiciary and Articles 8, 14 and 25 which provide equal rights to citizens. It is also an attempt to reduce the powers of the Supreme Court.
It is pertinent to note here that government passed the contempt of court law in a bid to protect the incumbent Prime Minister from facing the same fate as Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani.
The main opposition party in the National Assembly, the PML-N, had objected to the passage of the law saying it was not sent to relevant standing committees for deliberation.