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SC warns against civilian or military move to delay polls
 
 
 

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court Thursday issued to NAB chief a show-cause notice for contempt of court and made it clear that it will not allow delay in elections by any quarter or subversion of the present democratic order under any disguise. The notice to anti-corruption watchdog head Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari was issued over his writing a controversial letter to President Asif Ali Zardari wherein he accused the apex court of interfering in bureau’s investigations, particularly against politicians. This was a second contempt notice to Fasih Bokhari, who, along with some other officials of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), was also issued such a notice last year in September for not implementing the SC judgement in rental power projects (RPPs) case. In the letter reportedly sent on Jan 27 to the president, Bokhari had also accused the superior judiciary of trying to influence the upcoming elections. Also, parliamentarian Raza Rabbani had lately expressed in the Senate his fears about derailment of democratic system by the establishment. But the three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, while hearing the implementation case of its March 2012 ruling in RPPs matter, reiterated that the free judiciary will be the biggest impediment to any effort at rolling back democratic order and it will remain, as in the recent past, in the forefront to guard democracy. In its order, the court also warned both civilian and military authorities against taking any steps for delaying the elections or trying for introducing any unconstitutional government system. The court also said that SC enjoys the confidence of people and it is the duty of the apex court to preserve and protect the constitution and the system of government it entails. The bench, which also included Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, issued contempt notice to NAB chief with the direction to appear in person on February 4 for filing of reply and further proceeding. The SC office was directed to communicate the notice to the chairman along with the yesterday’s (Thursday) order. The case was adjourned until February 4. In Thursday’s order, the bench noted: “We are of the opinion that whatever had been expressed in the letter tantamount to causing interference with or obstruction to the process of the court and (that) the certain expressions are to scandalise the court and its performance, which undermine the authority of this court and bring (it) into hatred.” The bench also noted that the general public approaches the courts for the decisions in their cases; therefore, this issue needs to be tackled properly or the people would lose their confidence in the courts. The court said a parliamentary system is flourishing in the country on the basis of democratic order in terms of constitutional provisions. On the completion of five-year term of the national and provincial assemblies, the elections are likely to be scheduled under the constitution shortly; therefore, the “election must be held”.It said there should be no apprehension of derailment of democratic system as expressed by highly reputed parliamentarian Raza Rabbani. The civilian and military authorities “shall not take any action or steps that are tantamount to deviation from the election. Deviation from the constitution by introducing any other system, which is not recognised under the constitution, cannot be accepted.”  “It is the duty of the apex court to preserve and protect the 1973 Constitution, therefore (we) would not allow its subversion and deviation in order to achieve certain objectives.”The chief justice said the apex court undoubtedly enjoys the confidence of people of Pakistan. The people are fully aware that on Nov 3, 2009 important matters were pending before the court and a bench was seized with the case regarding qualification of Pervez Musharraf to contest election in uniform. On the conclusion of the case, emergency was imposed. However, the 7-member bench hearing the case, after coming to know about it, issued stay order against it, which ultimately resulted in the restoration of judiciary.During the proceeding, Prosecutor General NAB KK Agha presented the authentic copy of the chairman’s letter duly signed by him. The bench after going through the letter asked him to read it. When Agha read out the words “pre-poll rigging” from the letter, the chief justice remarked that the court always speaks of electoral reforms and timely elections. The CJP said that RPPs and other cases were pending in the court and he, Agha, being the officer of the court and not as NAB prosecutor should tell why the chairman had gone to such extreme. Agha replied: “I can’t read other person’s mind, but I think this is the manifestation of frustration.” Justice Gulzar asked, “Do you suggest it was not proper? We hear so many case of NAB daily.”The CJP said that the NAB was established to control corruption. During the hearing of the RPPs case huge amount was recovered on short notices, he added. Justice Azmat asked the PG “why don’t you get the law amended ‘that the corruption is no longer a crime and the apex court should not hear the corruption cases’. If you would do this then most of the people will be happy.”On Jan 15, the SC had directed authorities to arrest incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and 15 others accused in the RPPs scam. The PM has been accused of receiving kickbacks and commission in the case as minister for water and power. The NAB chairman, however, took the plea that there was not yet sufficient evidence to arrest the premier and others.The CJP said in the RPPs judgment, the court, being conscious of the rights of the persons involved in corruption, used guarded language.

 
 
on epaper page 12
 
 
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