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Not bothered by campaigns against judges: CJ – The Express Tribune

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Justice Bandial asks why SC should decide on political crises when its decisions are criticised at rallies
 
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial observed on Monday that the recent tirade against the judiciary did not bother the judges as protecting and preserving the Constitution was their duty, adding that the court functions 24 hours in this regard.
Without naming anyone in particular, the chief justice stressed the apex court should be respected.
The CJP’s comments come a few days after Imran Khan, in his first rally after being ousted, asked the judiciary to explain the reason behind its decision to throw open its doors in the dead of night when the fate of a no-trust resolution against him hung in the balance.
The former premier doubled down on his questioning of the judiciary’s decision to open its doors beyond the notified timings in his massive rally in Karachi on Saturday.
It is pertinent to note that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has since explained that "as a constitutional court, it ensures that cases relating to extreme urgency are presented at any time after the notified timings."
While hearing a presidential reference seeking its interpretation of Article 63-A on Monday, the CJP questioned the point of the court’s intervention in political crises “if 5,000 to 10,000 people are eventually going to gather and start criticising their judgments and not accept them.”
“We expect the political leaders to have the courage to defend the judgment”. "We are cursed for doing our jobs and protecting the Constitution. Why should the court get involved in your political matters?" he said while addressing Islamabad Advocate General Niazullah Khan Niazi.
"Protecting the Constitution is our responsibility. We will fulfil our responsibilities," Justice Bandial added.
"The court works 24 hours. No one has the need to raise a finger on the court proceedings," he remarked.
“I am requesting political parties to defend the parliamentary form of system,” the CJP maintained.
A member of the bench, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail asked why the court should step in if the parliament did not mention lifetime disqualification in the Constitution on account of defecting lawmakers.
Read Article 63-A does not mention lifetime disqualification, says SC
'No mention of disqualification'
Hearing the case on March 28, the SC observed that Article 63-A of the Constitution did not mention lifetime disqualification. It only referred to temporary disqualification (de-seating) in case of violation.
During the hearing on the presidential reference, former attorney general Khalid Jawed Khan had argued that defection was no ordinary political activity, adding that the Constitution mentioned the tenure of an assembly, not of lawmakers.
According to the AGP, lawmakers’ membership ends in case of the dissolution of the assembly.
He said the purpose of Article 63-A will be fulfilled with lifetime disqualification and the law would not serve its purpose by de-seating lawmakers till the completion of the assembly’s tenure. The then government’s lawyer said that in case of a declaration, Article 62(1)(f) will be applied to the dissenting lawmaker.
At this, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail asked whether disagreement meant dissent as per the AGP, to which Khan replied in the negative.
Justice Mandokhail said Article 63-A referred to de-seating, not a disqualification. He added that there was no need for further discussion when there was no mention of disqualification.
Advocate General Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Niazullah Khan Niazi told the court that he endorsed the former attorney general Khalid Jawed Khan’s arguments, saying that defecting lawmakers should be disqualified for life.
Niazi argued that a vote is a trust that a political party gives to an MNA. "Conscience can't be sold for money," he said, adding that lawmakers could be forced to pass anti-national legislation in return for money.
He said that the situation in Punjab was in front of everyone and "all the stakeholders are looking at the court."
The advocate general pointed out that dissident lawmakers could not even go out in public today.
‘Former AGP somersaulted before SC'
However, Imran Khan's counsel, Babar Awan, disowned Khalid Jawed Khan's arguments in seeking interpretation and scope of Article 63A of the Constitution.
Awan told the bench the former AGP “somersaulted” before the court, adding he will never adopt the latter’s arguments.
Babar Awan will present his arguments before the larger bench on Tuesday (today).
 
 
 
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