Saturday, March 1, 2008

Reinstatement of judges

Zardari convinced constitutional amendment not required: Munir
By Muhammad Ahmad Noorani

ISLAMABAD: PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has assured the top leadership of the legal fraternity that he is fully committed to the cause of the restoration of the pre-Nov 3rd judiciary and acceded to latterís viewpoint that the attainment of this objective does not require any constitutional amendment, party sources and participants confirmed to The News. Top lawyers leaders including former president Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Munir A Malik, Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood and senior lawyer and chairperson Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Asma Jehangir met Zardari on Thursday in the Zardari House to discuss the possible modalities of restoration of judiciary. Zardari was accompanied by Sherry Rehman and Mian Raza Rabbani in the meeting. Munir A Malik told The News that the lawyers leaders told Zardari that they, the whole lawyers community and civil society want immediate reinstatement of all Supreme Court and High Courts judges sacked on November 3 with the illegitimate imposition of emergency and unconstitutional promulgation of Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), as an independent judiciary was impossible without restoration of these judges.

Asif Ali Zardari told the lawyers leaders that the PPP along with the coalition partners was preparing a constitutional package and all constitutional problems and issues would be solved with the passage of this package from parliament, Munir said.

Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood told The News that all the three of us told Zardari that the coalition partners should go ahead with the constitutional package to undo all the unconstitutional steps taken by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf during the last eight years. “But, the issue of the restoration of judiciary should be kept aside from the said constitutional package and should be resolved without any amendment,” Tariq quoted the lawyers leaders in the meeting as telling Zardari.

According to Justice Tariq they argued to Zardari that if the issue of restoration of deposed judges sacked by an unconstitutional order is resolved through some constitutional amendment, it will become a precedent for any unconstitutional moves in future and that in future army chief would feel it easy to remove judges or eradicate and demolish other constitutional offices without any problem.

“We also argued to Zardari if the restoration issue is delayed it will create more and more problems as it needs immediate resolution,” Justice Tariq added. Both Justice Tariq and Munir A Malik confirmed to The News that on their suggestions, Asif Ali Zardari assured them that he and his party’s coalition will solve the issue of restoration as soon as possible as per their legal opinion without any constitutional amendment. We will not make any wrong move and will not set any precedents for future dictators, he said.

Senior PPP leader Mian Raza Rabbani, who was also part of the meeting when approached by The News said he couldn’t tell the details of the meeting. However, Rabbani said he can assure that PPP wants complete and immediate restoration of judiciary. He said he was making this statement on record and there was nothing off the record now. He further said his party wants a parliamentary committee comprising coalition partners to sort out modalities for immediate resolution of the most important national issue.

“I also want to assure you that constituting a committee never means that we want the issue to linger on, as we recognize the fact that as long as this issue will linger on, the situation will become from worse to worst.î After putting it before the parliamentary committee, we will follow the issue and make it possible to finalise the modalities, in consultation with lawyers leaders, as soon as possible and will immediately implement the decision of the committee,” Rabbani said.

Munir said he was very hopeful after the assurance of Asif Ali Zardari that he will act promptly to resolve the restoration of pre-November 3rd judiciary issue immediately without any constitutional amendment so as not to provide any precedent for future unconstitutional moves.

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