Their word is law
It wasn’t about the lofty principle of an independent judiciary after all. No, the courts needed a reason, any reason, to do away with the parliamentary committee for judicial appointments. First, the court had issues with the perceived violation of the independence of the judiciary. Now, it has issues with the parliamentary committee because of – and here comes the chutzpah – the violation of the supremacy of the parliament. The judiciary has taken upon itself to defend the rights of the parliament whether the latter likes it or not.
Rejecting the parliamentary body’s recommendation to reject the extension of six additional judges of the Lahore and Sindh high courts, the Supreme Court bench that was hearing the federation’s petition had a thing or two to say about the nuances of parliamentary democracy. An eight-member committee is not superior to the constitution, said one of the honourable justices; a few parliamentarians could not be given the powers of the whole parliament. Not even powers that the parliament has given the aforementioned committee itself? Much could be made of this argument. Consider: parliament is supreme; the prime minister draws all his power from this exalted chamber. Could we then argue against the premier having any executive powers whatsoever? After all, far from being an eight-member committee, he is just one man.
Logistics and large populations made direct democracies unfeasible. That gave birth to representative democracy. Why, then, couldn’t that principle be extended further, with the parliamentarians choosing representatives from within their ranks?
Truth be told, it is futile to debate the merits of arguments here. In the perpetual tug of war between institutions, the judiciary knows that parliamentary profiles have changed since the 18th and 19th amendments were passed. Getting the entire parliament behind it again is going to be a tall order for the government, given the fragility of its parliamentary presence. Any rectification of encroachments on the parliament’s turf will now have to wait till times of political stability. Till then, more of the same.