- In its response, party asks SC how a political sit-in should be regulated in future in a manner that does not violate fundamental rights guaranteed under Constitution
- PPP and JI say SC cannot act as ‘guarantor’ to end ongoing political crisis
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has asked whether the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to hear petitions against sit-ins and whether any judgments can be passed by the apex court to direct or regulate a political gathering in the form of a sit-in protest.
PTI posed the question in response to the apex court’s call for recommendations from political parties over a petition regarding extra-constitutional steps and sit-ins in the federal capital.
PTI’s counsel Yousuf Khosa submitted the party’s response before the five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk.
The response asked if the apex court could give guidelines on sit-ins and if there were any laws on such demonstrations in the country.
The party asked as to how a political sit-in should be regulated in the future in a manner that does not violate fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution. It also posed questions relating to the scope of Article 16 of the Constitution with respect to sit-ins.
“What amounts to a reasonable restriction imposed by the law?” the party asked the question in its written response.
“What falls under the remit of interest of public order? What determines the extent of the reasonableness of the restrictions and what actions would be in the interest of public order?…what is the redressal mechanism for the citizens of Pakistan who are of the view that they have been deprived of their right to assembly as provided under the Constitution and deprived unlawfully by the state.”
It also asked: “What are the responsibilities and obligations of the government against whom such a political dharna is being exercised?”
PTI’s response came a day after the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) submitted its reply in the court saying the current dispute should be resolved by the political leadership in accordance with the principles of democracy.
Both PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) have been holding sit-ins in the federal capital since August 14.
PPP, JI SAY SC CANNOT ACT AS GUARANTOR:
Meanwhile, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in their replies said that the SC cannot act as a ‘guarantor’ to end the ongoing political unrest.
Senator Aitzaz Ahsan submitted a reply on behalf of the PPP and JI in the apex court, stating that no circumstances could provide justification for any extra or unconstitutional act by any of the state’s functionaries.
The reply stated that rigging in elections cannot be made grounds for dissolution of any provincial assembly or government as it would be in direct violation of 18th amendment of the Constitution which guarantees provincial autonomy.
“This obviously means that ‘rigging issues’ relating to National Assembly could not be made a ground or excuse for dissolution of any provincial assembly or government otherwise; it would be in violation of the principle of federation as held by the apex court’s three judgments.”
The reply referred to the SC’s judgement in the Asghar Khan case, where the SC had ruled that in political affairs of the country or holding free and fair election, no role could be played by the secret agencies or officials thereof to favor one political party, group or individual over another. The reply further stated that the court is the apex court to ‘adjudicate’ cases and controversies between the parties to proceedings before the court under its constitutional or statutory jurisdiction.
The reply further stated that the court should uphold the separation of power, independence of judiciary and rule of law and Constitution, to ensure level playing field for all political actors with no role for an ‘outside umpire’ .
“Thus no issue whether political or otherwise could be taken outside the ambit of basic concept of supremacy of constitution.”
Both parties expressed their expectation that the court would not go into the larger questions that are political in nature and require political deliberation and consideration in Parliament or otherwise.
Both parties then requested the top court to pass any just and fair order as deemed appropriate in the circumstances of this case.
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