|By Ansar Abbasi|
|The war between crime and justice has intensified. The Supreme Court that rose in the wake of popular struggle is fearlessly busy in demolishing powerful idols, whereas those with some clout in the government are endeavouring not only to save them but also to glorify them as heroes. The government has emerged as the biggest hurdle in the way of justice. The accused, counsels and prosecution have all joined hands to weaken the judge and make him toothless. Efforts are afoot to murder justice and courts are made the butt of criticism. The only crime of the Supreme Court is that it is determined to bring to book every criminal regardless of his position, connections and his office. It beats one’s imagination that when a corrupt officer like Ahmad Riaz Sheikh is sent behind the bars, PPP leaders start issuing anti-judiciary statements. Nobody bothers to ask how a corrupt person who earned notoriety because of his corruption could be laundered of all his black deeds through the NRO. Not only that he was reinstated, and too within one year, he was given promotion from BS-18 to BS-20 and made in-charge of a very important department — the Economic Crime Wing.
To elevate such a person as head of a department meant for eradicating corruption was a hoax played on the people of Pakistan. When the government did this, all remained mum except the Jang Group of Newspapers. None raised a voice against this cruel joke, neither on the media, nor in parliament or the corridors of power. Why did the powerful bureaucrats, including the interior secretary, establishment secretary, DG FIA and other heavyweights of promotion board, prefer to remain silent and why did they not protest against wrong promotion? All knew the real background of Ahmad Riaz Sheikh but the senior officials chose to look the other way.
Now when the Supreme Court has ordered to handcuff him, restored his sentence and ordered that he be sent to jail, a hue and cry has been raised. A particular class has become nervous when the SC is asking the powerful secretaries as well as the NAB chairman as to why they were defying the apex court’s orders instead of implementing the same, and as to why they should not be sent behind the bars for the same. Now voices are being raised against such treatment against senior and big officers.
Perhaps, we do not like to come out of the pit of mental degradation where only the weak and voiceless people can be punished and there was no concept of bringing the rich, the powerful, the big bureaucrats, and rulers in the dock. Now when the winds of change have started blowing and we are witnessing the birth of a new Pakistan, this class has started screaming. Previously, one felt shame on being punished for corruption, but after restoration of his punishment by the Supreme Court, Ahmad Riaz Sheikh was seen saluting the media, making victory signs. One felt as if he had won some laurels in the court.
On his way to jail from the police station, the criminal said that he was with Asif Ali Zardari yesterday, and he was still with him today. This statement alone was sufficient for proceeding against a government official.
One is at a loss to know what was special in this official that three advisers of the Presidency — Fauzia Habib, Rukhsana Bangash, and Farahnaz — rushed to the police station to meet him.
Similar attitude is being shown in case of resignation of PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti. An influential minister of the incumbent government said the Supreme Court was unjust to Dasti. When asked whether it too was unjust that our political leaders, who should be our role models, should return to assemblies on the basis of fraud? The minister had the cheek to say that the court should not have insulted the MNA and he should not have been told either to resign or to go to jail. I was at a loss to know why the minister was oblivious of the insult the said MNA had meted out to the people. He had ignored the lie on the basis of which he had sat in the National Assembly.
The Supreme Court reprimanded the NAB on another fraud and directed it to take disciplinary action against the prosecutors who, with their silence, helped some NRO beneficiary big guns to be acquitted from accountability courts. It is a mockery of justice that a counsel appearing against the accused should be subordinate to him. When the NAB works under the government and the Law Ministry, how can it speak against the accused who are part of the government? We have been clamouring since long that as long as the NAB prosecutors are under the thumb of the government, courts will continue to be cheated and the murder of justice cannot stop.
Forget me, forget the Jang Group because we are prejudiced in the eyes of the government. Just read the Dawn of Wednesday in which it has been reported that the NAB did not oppose the appeal for acquittal of Siraj Shamsuddin, former principal secretary of PM Gilani, and the court acquitted him. Reporting about the acquittal of Agha Sirajud Din, Sindh Minister for Local Bodies who happens to be very close to President Zardari, the paper writes that NAB prosecutor submitted in the court that he had no proof against Agha Sirajuddin and this led to his acquittal. The same paper writes in the same news that Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Principal Secretary to the President Suleman Faruqui, his brother and ex Chairman Pakistan Steel Usman Farooqi and Agha Siraj Durrani are among those who were acquitted because of silence of NAB. A few days ago, in response to my question, the NAB told me that they were not going to appeal in higher courts against any of these acquittals of influential persons and those close to President Zardari. The Supreme Court ordered the NAB on Wednesday that appeals should be filed in these cases too.
This is going to cause hue and cry. However, all were mum at that time; the NAB was mum; and criminals were being acquitted. This class of people wants the return of Dogar era when all the big guns, capitalists, bureaucrats, ministers, and rulers were safe, all their crimes notwithstanding. The courts even paid them respect. But now a change has come to Pakistan and we must learn to live in a changed country.
Switch to any news channel of Pakistan the major issue you will find for discussion is 1992 military operation in Karachi which MQM claims was against MQM and army/PML-N claims was against the miscreants and robbers and all this was started by one man Brigadier (R) Imtiaz who is appearing on every channel opening a Pandora box of Pakistan’s political history.
It is a thing to be asked with NRO beneficiary Brigadier (R) Imtiaz that what and who has provoked him to reveal all the things after 17 years.
Apart from the blame game and media spice the timing is really important.
National media which was discussing issues of :
1 ) Pervaiz Musharraf trial under Article 6 of high treason.
2 ) NRO case.
3 ) USA embassy or I should say military fortress being built in Pakistan.
4 ) Corruption of Zardari government and destruction of national institutions.
5 ) Sugar scandal.
6 ) Electricity crisis and rental power issues.
7 ) 12 May 2007 killings in Karachi.
8 ) Benazir Bhutto murder and UN investigation.
is now wasting their time in discussion the issue which should have been settled in court by the politicians specially MQM as it claims to be the victim party.
Also we need to look what else has happened during this time:
1 ) Northern areas are given the provincial status which has really damaged the Kashmir cause. Yasin Malik of JKLF has shown his reservations on this as well.
2 ) Cabinet has approved the Rental power project which is a straight 200 bn Rs corruption scandal.
3 ) Dogar is back with challenging the 31st July 2009 historical decision of Supreme Court of Pakistan.
4 ) Government has stopped the actions against those who created the sugar crisis in the country.
Now the question comes who are the prime beneficiaries :
1 ) Pervaiz Musharraf as his case is now gone at the back on media thanks to Brig. (R) Imtiaz.
2 ) Asif Zardari as Minus one is also now gone at the back on media.
3 ) MQM and Altaf as they have again proved themselves as an asset for establishment,Musharraf and Zardari apart from other political gains they have got.
I hope the sanity will prevail and people will understand the game the likes of Zardari,Musharraf,Kiyani and team are playing.
By Muhammad Ahmad Noorani
ISLAMABAD: The Presidency is eying for yet another politically demanding goal, the extension to Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar without a constitutional amendment, but the president’s spokesman asserts that Dogar will retire on March 21.
Though constitutional experts including even those who are considered close to Justice Dogar believe that this is impossible without a constitutional amendment, legal minds surrounding President Zardari are considering to achieve this impossible task through a court order.
In the post-October 12, 1999 Constitution, the age for retirement of a Supreme Court judge was 65. However, according to constitutional experts, Musharraf, in his bid to continue with his favourite and handpicked judges for a long time, had increased this age limit from 65 to 68 years in his unconstitutional Legal Framework Order (LFO).
During the negotiations for 17th Amendment, the increase in retirement-age of the judges of the apex court was not accepted and it was again fixed at 65 years. Afterwards, a lawyer Maulvi Iqbal Haider, who was known to be close to official circles during the Musharraf-regime, moved a petition in the Supreme Court praying that the retirement-age limit for the apex court judges once extended could not be reduced. The said petition is still pending with the Supreme Court.
Though, constitutional experts SM Zafar and Dr Khalid Ranjha argue that the retirement age could be extended only through a constitutional amendment, senior PPP leader and Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice Begum Nasim Akhtar Chaudhry told The News Thursday that the age limit could be increased through a simple legislation, which could be passed by a simple majority.
According to sources in the government, President Zardari’s legal gurus see no way out for continuation in the power corridors if someone other than Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar becomes the Chief Justice. According to these sources, Zardari considers continuation of Justice Dogar as the Chief Justice crucial to get out of present crisis emerging in the wake of the lawyers’ long march.
In case, no unconstitutional step is taken, Justice Dogar will retire on March 21. A minister approached by The News termed the report about the proposal to give extension to Dogar for saving Zardari rule baseless. He said if the government wanted to give extension to Dogar, it would be done because of the competency of the incumbent CJ and not because of saving the rule of Zardari.
Senior constitutional expert SM Zafar told The News that there was no ambiguity whatsoever in the retirement age of a Supreme Court judge could only be increased through a constitutional amendment, which needed two-third majority.
Senior lawyer Dr Khalid Ranjha told The News “though the age could only be increased through a constitutional amendment but in a country like the one we are living in, anything could be done.” He said media persons and lawyers would condemn it but once the decision was delivered, it would be implemented like many other wrong things. When asked to comment, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told The News there was no question of Dogar getting an extension and he would retire on March 21.
Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitzaz Ahsan has categorically rejected the idea of two Supreme Courts when asked the the opinion on the issue by Talat Hussain of AAj TV in the programme Live with Talat.
He said the suggestion refers to an arrangement which is Dogar and Iftikhar Chaudhary specific and he said it will be like spliting the court in two parts.
In his interview he also said that he tried his best to convince his party leadership and accepted that his opinion is considered as and opposing one in the party circles and he blamed the leagal advisors of the party for this.
Aitzaz Ahsan who is also a member of central executive committee of PPP said he and Justice(R) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim sent their arguements in writing to the committee for the restoration of judiciary in which they gave a solution for the PCO judges adjustment as appointments on ad-hoc bases which will not only keep the PCO judges in the court but also will not disturb the seniority of the genuine judges.
He also again rejected the minus one formula and revealed that he was given this proposal by a very trusted advisor of Musharraf when he was in Adiala jail during emergency(Martial Law).
Below is the News Report on the issue.
|Two Supreme Courts being considered to resolve judges issue|
By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: Two parallel Supreme Courts are being quietly discussed in Pakistan as part of a draft constitutional package to resolve the complex issue of the deposed judges’ restoration.
The proposal envisages one Supreme Court to be headed by the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry dealing only with criminal and civil cases and the other by the incumbent Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, which would be looking after the constitutional matters. It will also have all the suo motu powers.
Highly-placed sources close to the presidential camp revealed that the new constitutional court to be headed by Justice Dogar, whom Musharraf and Asif Zardari do not want to lose, would be named as the Federal Constitutional Court (FCC), which would be exclusively empowered to deal with all the constitutional issues, such as the interpretation of the Constitution, the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), constitutional controversies, the validity of President Musharraf and most importantly the suo motu actions.
Sources said the court, to be headed by Iftikhar Chaudhry, would be a sort of an appellate court on the high courts of the four provinces. But the court headed by Justice Dogar would handle the real issues that worry the presidency and the Zardari House.
Likewise, the new constitutional package also envisages the formation of a parliamentary committee to scrutinise the judges as it was envisaged in the Charter of Democracy.
This correspondent made several calls to Law Minister Farooq H Naek to get his point of view but he did not pick up his mobile phone. He did not even answer an SMS sent to him. Several calls were also made to a member of the constitutional committee Raza Rabbani and Aitzaz Ahsan but they too could not be reached.
The new proposal contemplates the creation of a Federal Constitution Court, to be headed by Justice Dogar with seven judges on the bench. A separate Supreme Court of Pakistan to deal with civil and criminal appeals would be headed by Iftikhar Chaudhry.
This court will consist of the deposed colleagues along with some of the PCO judges. Sources claimed that if approved and enacted by parliament, the existing structure of the superior judiciary would be altogether changed into two distinct entities.
An important impact of this proposed amendment over the life of common citizen would be withering away of the writ jurisdiction, as provided under Article 199 of the Constitution, and all five writs shall be exclusively entertainable by the federal Constitution alone.
The status of both the courts with perks and privilege of the judges shall be at par and judges from one court to another court shall be transferable through exercise of executive authority. The proposed arrangements being discussed further envisages that the Federal Constitutional Court would be the only competent forum to issue writ of the nature of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, declaration and injunctions and shall be competent to adjudicate upon disputes arising between the Federation and the federating units and shall be vested with the jurisdiction to interpret ambiguities in constitutional provisions and shall be competent to issue injunctions, both interim and perpetual and could validate or declare as null and void a constitutional provision or a subordinate law.
One expert said the proposed draft, if examined on the touchstone of the jurisdictional and judicial powers of the present day Supreme Court enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, shall be tantamount to divide the powers of the apex court into two entities.
The Supreme Court, headed by Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, shall be reduced to the level of a civil court of civil and criminal appeals whereas all matters of public and the national importance, including those warranting interpretation of status, laws and constitutional provisions shall be vested in the Federal Constitutional Court and by such way, any disputes relating to the legitimacy of an incumbent of a government office like president, governor, etc, shall be exclusively litigated before the Federal Constitutional Court.
The expert said the move appears to placate the apprehensions of the establishment and the presidency on the one hand and endeavour to appease the civil society, media and the lawyers on the other.
Not only that the question of validity of President Musharraf shall remain buried, but also to pre-empt the ambitious pursuit of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry of frequent exercise of powers of the judicial review, a need for creation of a Federal Constitutional Court was felt and a resolution likely to be tabled next week in parliament shall be qualified with the passage of the constitutional package.
The expert said if this draft law was enacted, the institution of the judiciary would be belittled with its powers divided and jurisdiction curtailed. The immediate and most lethal impact of the constitutional package would be ordinary litigants and general citizens of the society with the withering away of the writ jurisdiction of the high court and in the absence of the alternate remedy at provincial capitals and where the high court benches are functioning. A great deal of inconvenience would be involved to present petitions to the Federal Constitutional Court at Islamabad.
The expert claimed that even the deposed judges would prefer to stay away from the chambers of the newly-styled Supreme Court and the lawyers community was expected to put an en bloc opposition to the move.
The expert feared as the package was likely to affect the life of an ordinary citizen, the response from the public may aggravate the situation and if the move failed on the floor of the house, either for dissent by the PML-N or for any other reason, the fate of the coalition government in Islamabad would also be decided there and then.