Some comments on judicial developments in Pakistan: Read Justice Katju

A 3 judge bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court has held that Article 224(2) of the Pakistan Constitution, which mandates holding of elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the Provincial Assembly, must be followed. It set aside the postponement of the Punjab Assembly by the Election Commission of Pakistan to 8th October

Some people, particularly supporters of the ruling PDM, have criticised the verdict.

But what is wrong in it ? Should the Constitution not be followed ?

Some people have urged that a full court of all judges of the Pakistan Supreme Court should review the 3 judge bench verdict.

I was 20 years a judge, in 3 High Courts ( Allahabad, Madras, and Delhi ) and in the Indian Supreme Court, but never was any full court of all the judges of the court formed. Judges sat on benches constituted by the Chief Justice. Hence this demand by some sections in Pakistan to form a full court of all judges is totally unwarranted and unprecedented.

Some people say that the Chief Justice of Pakistan Bandial selectively forms benches of judges who are of his mind, and excludes others.

The truth is that CJP includes in benches he forms those judges who believe that the Constitution, including Article 224(2), should be enforced. What is wrong in that ? Why should he include judges who do no believe that. Should the Constitution be followed or not ?  Moreover, the Chief Justice is by convention Master of the Roster, and it is his sole prerogative to form benches, and decide which judge should be on which bench.

Some people say that the petition against postponement of the Punjab and KP elections had earlier been dismissed by a 4-3 bench of the Supreme Court, so how could a 3 judge bench later allow it ?

The truth is that there was no 4-3 judgment of the Pakistan Supreme Court, and it is fake news propagated by some vested interests. No one has ever produced a copy of this alleged judgment.

Reliance has been placed on a note of Justice Minallah

But notes sent by a judge to the CJP, or released to the media, do not constitute a judgment. Moreover, issuing notes by judges and releasing them into the public domain is highly improper.

It is a long standing and well established convention that sitting judges should only speak through their judgments, and should not go into the public domain. Judges who issue such notes, like Justice Minallah, break this convention and betray lack of the discipline and self restraint expected of judges of a superior court.

The PDM has said that it will not accept the Supreme Court decision. That is like a team in a football match saying it will not accept the decision of the referee awarding a penalty to the opposite team, or that it will not accept the decision of the linesman holding a player to be offside. Can any match be played if this is done ? If court decisions are not accepted it will lead to chaos, jungle raj, and matsya nyaya.

Some people, including the Federal Govt, some media persons, and some lawyers have demanded the resignation of CJP Bandial

If judges are made to resign on such demands, that will be an end to independence of the judiciary, for after every verdict there may be some disgruntled elements.

CJP Bandial has stood like a rock, and insisted that the Constitution must be followed. All saner element s should support him.



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