Tuesday, March 25, 2008

PPP, lawyers debunk ‘Minus-One’ formula

By Muhammad Ahmad Noorani

ISLAMABAD: Some top legal aides of PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari have approached certain active members of the lawyers’ community to discuss a formula for the restoration of the deposed judges, which surprisingly does not include Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad
Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmud confirmed to The News that this strange formula called the “Minus-One-Formula” was also discussed with him recently by a top legal mind in the PPP.Though this suggestion is in complete contrast with what was committed by the PPP and the PML-N top brass in the Bhurban Accord a few weeks back, it is not yet verified if this new formula has the backing of Asif Ali Zardari.
The lawyers’ community, however, rules out such a move to resolve the judicial crisis. Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, when contacted, said not a single judge would be willing to return to his office if Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is not restored.
He said the lawyers’ movement is for the restoration of all judges sacked on Nov 3, 2007 unconstitutionally and nothing less than a complete restoration of the Nov 2 position of the judiciary would be acceptable.
“Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would be the first one to be facilitated to return to his office and then the 44 judges of the Supreme Court and high courts will follow,” Aitzaz said, adding all the deposed judges are well aware of the situation and will return to their offices once the deposed chief justice returns to his office.
Aitzaz said the lawyers’ community has full faith and believe in the Bhurban Declaration signed by the PPP-led coalition. He said the lawyers have decided in principle to strengthen the hands of parliament and the new prime minister.
Aitzaz also reiterated that lawyers would foil any attempt to subvert the Bhurban Declaration. He also alleged that the presidency was trying to subvert the Bhurban Declaration and pressurising the newly-elected democratic government through international pressure to change its stance on the Murree Declaration.
Another key lawyers’ leader, Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmud said there are few people in the PPP-led coalition trying to convince the lawyersí leadership that it should agree to the ‘Minus-One-Formula’.
Justice Tariq said it was impossible not only for the deposed judges and the lawyers’ community but also for the whole nation. He said it was Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who dared to say no to the dictator and gave a new hope to the nation, and he has become a symbol of an independent judiciary. Any formula which excludes Justice Chaudhry will tantamount to humiliating and defeating the mandate the nation has given to the winning parties on Feb 18.
Justice Tariq said: “I can categorically confirm to you that none of the deposed judges would be ready to return to their office, if Justice Iftikhar, who provided them inspiration to stand by the Constitution of the country, is not restored.”
According to Justice Tariq, a PPP leader tried to convince him that the new PPP government would feel more comfortable with the present Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar instead of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.“
He (the PPP leader) was trying to convince me to approach Justice Iftikhar so that he should give a guarantee that after restoration he would immediately resign from the office of the chief justice on the very first day he will return to his office,” revealed Justice Tariq, adding deposed Justice Javed Iqbal also stands no chance of reinstatement as he has already accepted a government job meant for retired judges. This would leave Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar as the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court.
Tariq quoted the PPP leader as suggesting: “If you accept this “Minus-One-Formula”, we will restore all other sacked judges in one go and there will be no more problems from any side in this regard.”
Tariq said he rejected the formula and made it clear that the movement of the civil society and lawyers for the restoration of the chief justice and all other judges would continue till the complete restoration of judiciary and the Constitution to the pre-Nov 3 position.
Farooq H Naik, senior lawyer and PPP leader who played an active role in the formulation of the Murree Accord, when approached by The News on Monday said he had no idea of any such formula.
PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar told The News on Saturday that restoration of the pre-Nov 3 judiciary without Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was out of the question.

(Courtesy The News)

No comments: