ISLAMABAD - The Federation on Tuesday acknowledged that the reason behind framing Contempt of Court (CoC) Act 2012 was to save Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf from the contempt.
Abdul Shakoor Paracha, the federation’s counsel, argued that according the 1973 Constitution the Parliament was empowered to legislate; therefore; the petitions against new contempt law were non-maintainable. He said sending another elected prime minister home would not strengthen the democratic institutions.
The chief justice said ultimately, it became obvious what was in the mind of Federation to frame the new contempt law. He inquired from the counsel what the objective for introducing the new contempt law was. And Paracha’s reply was to protect the prime minister from the contempt, adding, “One should be fair and open.”
The court asked whether to note down the point, to the counsel said yes, but it should be considered a reasonable objective, adding that there were some circumstances and reasons behind framing new laws. One prime minister was disqualified and the second and third prime ministers could also be disqualified under the old contempt legislation, he argued.
Paracha stated though the Federation had engaged him as a lawyer, but he would not hide the facts from the court. He said the CoC Act 2012 in no way had undermined the power of judiciary, adding that it was wrong to say that there was a confrontation between the judiciary and the Parliament.
The chief justice said not only the ordinary citizens, but also the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the highest and vital forum of the lawyers in the country, had challenged the law. The PBC’s point of view was that it should be declared null and void as it was against the Article 9 and 25 of the Constitution. The CJP said they would do their job in accordance with the Constitution and law, adding that democracy would flourish in the country, if dictatorship was not given any support.
Paracha said media sometimes exalted the army generals, judges or sometime the rulers. The chief justice said the black coats had brought revolution in the country and the judges did not have Kalashnikovs, adding media and civil society had strengthened the lawyers’ movement.
During the proceedings, Justice Shakirullah Jan said prima facie, it seemed that the new contempt law was discriminatory and framed for privileged class. He said the CoC Act 2012 was a violation of the basic principle of Constitution, which said everyone was equal before the law.
When the Federation counsel talked about Zia regime, the chief justice stopped him from discussing the political issues, to which Attorney General Irfan Qadir stood up from his seat and wanted to say something but the chief justice asked him let Paracha first finish his arguments and he should express his point of view on his turn.
Paracha said the apex court must show restraint, adding if there were violation of the fundamental rights, as per the petitions, then the matter should be referred to a High Court. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked that the Pandora’s box would be opened if the issue was referred to the five High Courts of the country.
The chief justice asked Paracha, “When you have accepted that section 12 of CoC Act 2012 is a violation of the Constitution, how could the Federation say that it was not issue of public importance.
Paracha said when the judiciary passed remarks against the opposition, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan reacted strongly. Justice said the opposition leader had expressed his views and he did not create any fuss.
The chief justice said giving immunity to the rich and punishing the poor was not a justice, to which Paracha questioned whether the court could declare the Article 248 of the Constitution null and void as it gives immunity to the president and governors.
Later, the hearing was adjourned till today (Wednesday).
Agencies add: During the hearing, the chief justice said the government’s claim about the contempt of court law being flawless was not correct.