PDM declares distrust in CJP-led bench hearing polls case

Shehbaz IMF

Huddle ponders future strategy; Fazal laments CJP’s ‘biased attitude’; Polls should be held at same day

Leaders of the coalition parties met on Saturday, a day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif invited allied parties in the federal government to discuss the ongoing situation in light of a deepening judicial crisis in the country.

The statement was issued on Saturday after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presided over a consultative meeting of the coalition parties to discuss the ongoing situation in light of a deepening judicial crisis in the country.

“We have no confidence in the three-member bench,” read the joint statement issued by the ruling parties.

The leaders of the ruling coalition parties also demanded that general elections should be held on the same day across the country.

“Holding transparent and impartial elections is a fundamental constitutional requirement and deviation from it will push the country into political crisis,” read a declaration issued by the PDM.

Referring to a note by dissenting judges of the Supreme Court, the statement said the chief justice wanted to impose a minority decision as a larger bench of the apex court had already “dismissed” the suo moto hearing of the case on Punjab polls delay case by a majority of four judges against three.

The ruling coalition also urged Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial to initiate proceedings on references filed under Article 209 by the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and other lawyers’ bar associations.

The communiqué said SC Judge Qazi Faiz Isa had also directed to stay proceedings on suo moto cases initiated under Article 184(3) until amendments are made to the Supreme Court’s rules governing the chief justice’s discretionary powers.

“It is also incumbent upon everyone to respect the decision announced by the Justice Qazi Faez Isa-led bench,” it added. The ruling alliance also expressed reservations over the inclusion of SC Judge Ijazul Ahsan in the bench hearing the polls delay case, saying it was “unfair” for him to be included in the bench again. “This process is a clear violation of the procedure and precedents of the Supreme Court. Politicians are being asked to sit together but the Supreme Court itself is divided,” the ruling alliance observed. The prevailing circumstances require the chief justice and other judges of the three-member bench to recuse themselves from hearing the case, they said. The meeting of coalition partners also endorsed the recent legislation on judicial reforms, the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, aimed at curbing the top judge’s suo moto powers in an individual capacity. “The legislation will end the practice of one-sided justice. Parliament has clearly stated its opinion on Article 184(3) through legislation. Parliament is the supreme institution whose opinion should be respected by all and it is hoped that the president will not obstruct legislation on the basis of his party affiliation.”

The joint statement demanded CJ Bandial to end the perception that “special treatment” was being given to the PTI by the apex court.

According to sources, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif also reportedly attended the huddle via video link.

Speaking to the media following the huddle, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the “biased attitude” of the chief justice and other two honourable judges, part of the bench hearing the Punjab elections delay case, has “divided” the Supreme Court.