Friday, April 4, 2008

Judges’ scrutiny by parliament panel after reinstatement

By Nasir Iqbal
(Courtesy DAWN)
ISLAMABAD, April 3: A draft constitutional package envisages subjecting all judges of the superior judiciary to scrutiny by a parliamentary committee after reinstatement of the judges sent home upon proclamation of the emergency on Nov 3.According to a reliable source, the government had “almost finalised” the “omnibus” constitutional amendment package.
“The constitutional package, being finalised with the consent of all the allied parties in the coalition government, is getting the final touches,” the source said.The proposal is in conflict with the Murree declaration, signed by the People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N last month, that spoke about the judges’ reinstatement through a parliamentary resolution within 30 days of government formation at the centre.
“Now the judges would be reinstated first in respect of the commitment made, but then the case of every judge, including the deposed and the incumbent, would be reviewed by a parliamentary committee to make a decision about their retention in the superior judiciary,” the source said.
The President of Supreme Court Bar Association, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, has already warned political parties against giving their assent to a package “prepared by the presidency”. The package is the brainchild of Attorney General Malik Mohammad Qayyum, Aitzaz Ahsan has alleged. He said President Pervez Musharraf wanted to make Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry very controversial so that he could be removed after the scrutiny process. Any such attempt would open a Pandora’s Box, he said, adding that every judge would then become controversial and the entire judiciary would be thrown into turmoil.
Former SCBA president Hamid Khan was also critical of the package, recalling that the Murree declaration only suggested en bloc reinstatement of all those judges who refused to take oath under the PCO. He suggested that the draft copy of any constitutional package should be circulated among bar councils and associations.
About Justice Iftikhar, Hamid Khan alleged that conspiracies were being hatched to get rid of him. He, however, warned that any proposal that spoke of reinstating judges minus Justice Iftikhar would not be accepted by the legal fraternity.

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