IHC CJ admonishes Sh Rashid over plea of ‘political nature’

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Sheikh Rashid

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah on Tuesday admonished Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid for filing a petition of a “political nature”.

The former interior minister had filed a petition last week, contending that the appointment of a 72-member cabinet was a violation of Article 92(1) of the Constitution.

The petition stated that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s cabinet included 34 federal ministers, seven state ministers, four advisers, and 27 special assistants and urged the court to set aside appointments that exceeded the prescribed limit.

Hearing the pleaon Tuesday, Justice Minallah said: “If such a petition is filed again, we will impose an exemplary fine”.

He added that the court respected parliament and did not unnecessarily interfere in the authority of the executive. “If any of your individual, fundamental rights are affected, then certainly approach the court. But not like this,” he told Rashid.

The IHC CJ termed Rashid’s petition “baseless”, reiterating his warning of imposing a fine. “We can impose a fine on you, but we are showing restraint.” He told the AML chief to take his fights to parliament. “There is no forum bigger than parliament.”

“Sheikh sahib, we respect you. Please keep courts away from these political matters,” Justice Minallah remarked. “Don’t disrespect parliament any further. It is this mindset that damages parliament.”

At this, Rashid’s counsel contended that there was no other forum to approach other than the court on the matter raised in the plea.

Justice Minallah, however, stated that such petitions should not be filed in court.

“Parliament has already been disrespected […] There are elected representatives in parliament and it is the [right] forum. The court will not interfere [in the matter],” he said. At that, Rashid said he was willing to withdraw his plea.

But, Justice Minallah said he would be issuing an order in the case and suspended the session. After the hearing, Rashid shared the IHC CJ’s remarks with the media and said his petition would probably be dismissed.

To a question about the prospects of him returning to the National Assembly, he said he was an ally of PTI chief Imran Khan, who would take a decision in this regard.

“If Imran Khan says, I will go [to the National Assembly]. If he doesn’t, I will not,” Rashid said.

 

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