On the contempt law verdict


The SC has struck down the Contempt of Court Act 2012 for being unconstitutional and illegal. The new law was made to protect the PM from meeting the same fate as his predecessors. Although the Attorney General alleged that the decision of SC convicting Yousaf Raza Gilani using the Contempt Ordinance of 2003 was not approved by the parliament and hence the SC’s verdict was not legal.
Now the important question is how the clash between the SC and executive can be avoided? The SC considers the constitution as supreme while the president and executive consider parliament as supreme with the right and role of making laws. Therefore, the government has decided to pass a new contempt of court law. Why are the government and judiciary not prepared to understand that their power struggles are not doing anything for the people’s welfare? Why are they not able to reach a compromise? The government wants to make laws to protect the PM’s unchallenged power and the judiciary wants to retain unchallenged power to interpret the constitutions and decide which law is good or bad for the people.
What about the accountability of judges for their decisions? Should they be holy cows like army generals? Why are they only to be judged by the Supreme Judicial Council which is headed by the CJ himself?
The majority of the people of Pakistan are not interested in legal complexities. They just want their basic needs to be met – they are fed up of the exploitation by the ruling elite. They want cheap and speedy justice which they are not getting. They wonder why those in a position of authority are only interested in becoming more powerful.
Which state institution can claim that it is only working for the welfare of the people?
As anticipated, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared the Contempt of Court Act 2012 unconstitutional and void and has revived the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 with effect from July 12, the day when the new law was enforced with all consequences. It is the job of the parliament to make laws that best suit the interests of the people but is its job to pass legislation that entirely focuses on political strategies that best suit those being elected and not those who elect them. What we saw in case of the contempt law was subjective and absolute loyalty to the individual and party rather then the objective loyalty to the people of Pakistan.
The decision by the Supreme Court was expected. I am sure this decision will be popular and appreciated by all law abiding citizens, lawyers and civil society. It is an accepted norm that any disagreement or conflict arising out due to certain clauses of constitution the final authority to interpret lies with the apex court and can not be challenged. Supreme Court benches are not made to suit or serve the rulers but to protect the constitution and ensure the rule of law.
To start with, it was not right to appoint a controversial figure as the prime minister of Pakistan. This choice was not even popular within the party and the people of the country. How can a person who failed to deliver at the lower tier of management be elevated to higher pedestal?
This decision will definitely cast dark shadows on the one issue that the PPP seems not to budge on: the holding of early elections. Our current PM is likely to be shown the door. It will be unfair on part of the government to appoint another PM. It is hoped that better sense will prevail and the government will appoint an interim setup and give call for early elections. Now it is for the government to follow the constitutional course of action and not involve itself in an unnecessary confrontation. It is also true that we can not keep changing PMs in the name of democracy; we have to demonstrate better political acumen in choosing the best option to ensure that the system does not suffer.