I slamabad: Veteran former judges have said that the country is likely to head towards an intricate constitutional crisis amidst the impending appeal of Prime Minister against his conviction by Supreme Court.
Speaking exclusively to saach.tv, Justice (r) Khalil ur Rehman Ramday, Justice (r) Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim and Justice (r) Tariq Mehmood said that President Asif Ali Zardari’s refusal to induct ad-hoc judges in the Supreme Court will escalate rift between the country’s government and judiciary.
The former judges further said that President’s approval is necessary for appointment of ad-hoc judges in Supreme Court under Article 182 of the Constitution. They were of the opinion that if Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani lodges an appeal against his conviction, a legal lacuna will engulf the Supreme Court, which will be unable to constitute the required nine-member bench without appointment of ad-hoc judges.
Earlier, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said that an additional judge and two ad-hoc judges will be appointed to form a nine-member bench that will hear the Prime Minister’s appeal in the contempt of case. He said that Articles 181 and 182 of the constitution allow additional and ad-hoc judges to be included in the bench.
De-notification of Prime Minister
The former judges said that the Speaker of the National Assembly does not have any discretionary power to determine whether Article 63-1 (g) of the constitution is invoked against any member of the assembly.
Justice (r) Khalil ur Rehman Ramday said that the speaker of the National Assembly is legally bound to forward the case of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s disqualification to the Election Commission. However, if the Speaker refuses to do so, the Chief Election Commissioner can de-notify Gilani under the deeming clause of the constitution.
Justice (r) Tariq Mehmood said the constitution obligates the Election Commission of Pakistan to de-notify a member of Parliament who is convicted by any court of law. There is no ambiguity about the conviction of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani by the Supreme Court, he added.
Where Supreme Court went wrong?
Justice (r) Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim said the Supreme Court should have formed a bench comprising less than seven judges in anticipation of limited number of judges available to hear the appeal that will be lodged against the original verdict.
He said the government will scramble to appoint ad-hoc judges who are favorable towards the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. But, he said, the Supreme Court will resist any such attempt which is likely to politicize the higher judiciary.