LAHORE – Jurists say the Supreme Court verdict is clear and unambiguous which not only disqualifies the prime minister but also dissolves his cabinet. They say the PPP will not accept the decision so easily although presently it is not showing any resistance.
Senior jurist Abid Hassan Minto says that possibility of the constitutional deadlock taking place following the SC verdict could not be ruled out had the Executive side not accepted the decision and inclined to any other step, like again resorting to the Parliament, to upset the SC order. Minto on the question of the legal status of the acts and decisions taken by Mr Gilani as prime minister since April 26 last when actually he stood disqualified to hold the office in light of the seven-member bench decision, says it was not a big problem as the Parliament could validate all those acts after a new prime minister has sworn in or the SC in the detailed judgment could provide a solution to that or the court could answer this question if any one led this proposition there. Minto said that democracy could flourish only if everyone would remain within the system.
Minto said that Gilani had in fact committed blunder by not appealing his conviction and relying solely on the speaker’s ruling. He said the SC in the short decision on April 26 while convicting Gilani had referred the matter of his disqualification to speaker as a mater of procedure as per the constitutional requirement under Article 63(g)1 of the Constitution but she struck down the decision itself for which she was not empowered.
Former judge of the Supreme Court, Wajihuddin Ahmad, said the present cabinet performing under Yousuf Raza Gilani had also lost validity after the ruling as such the sitting Cabinet also stood disqualified and its decisions invalid. Wajih said the PPP had record of defying the court orders and the present one had been accepted by it under great compulsion. In the prevailing circumstances where masses were furious over price-hike, crippling power cuts and deteriorated law and order, PPP government could not afford any further confrontation with the judiciary for the fear it could ignite the public resentment against the party. However, he said, PPP would continue defying the judicial verdicts which would prove by the fact that the party would not comply with the December 16, 2009 order for writing to the Swiss authorities for reopening of graft cases against Zardari. Hence, the PPP would remain on warpath with judiciary after this temporary phase of obeying SC order.
The former judge noted that the PPP had adopted the practice of lingering on matters to the maximum time employing different means and the same course it had adopted for the cases inside and outside the country which amounted to abusing the process of law. He said the best solution to the problem was early elections through an independent and impartial election commission and a caretaker government which, he said, was very much possible in light of the 18th Amendment of the Constitution.
Former president SCBA justice (r) Tariq Mahmood said early elections were the best solution after SC disqualification decision otherwise, he said, Establishment had become strong enough to once again challenge the civil setup. He sounded satisfaction that no constitutional crisis had been generated by the SC order as it was quite lucid and clear leaving no ambiguity of understanding. Tariq said Gilani and his government had announced budget and took many decisions which all could be protected by the Parliament or through the SC detailed decision with retrospective effect. He went of saying that after disqualification order by the SC, Gilani had become disentitled to contest elections for five years from the period which started from the day the conviction was passed on to him.
Former SCBA president Hamid Khan said SC had removed all ambiguities which earlier crept into the short order of April 26. He said the decisions taken by a disqualified prime minister had no legal and constitutional value and this could be avoided had Gilani stepped down after the short order or the Speaker acted as per the verdict.
Asma Jahangir said although she did not foresee any constitutional crisis , instability and a crisis-like situation could not be ruled out for the reason, a new prime minister had to take seat. Paying due respect to the SC, Asma however expressed reservations over the way SC was ‘pinching’ at the cost of the system. Senior jurist Muhammad Azhar Siddique said the SC had declared the Speaker’s ruling invalid which could bring Fehmida under fire as in terms of Article 62(1)2f read with order of her oath she might be held responsible for disobeying the constitution and overriding the authorities of SC and writing judgment over the judgment of the highest court of the country.