The Supreme Court on Thursday resumed the hearing of petitions against the recently passed contempt of court law.
According to a private TV channel, petitioner Ahsanuddin Sheikh who is also president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) of Rawalpindi said the parliament had passed the new contempt of court law in a rush and that it did not have the authority to curtail the judiciary’s freedom.
Sheikh also read out the record of the parliamentary debate over the law before the bench.
In his remarks, Justice Khawaja said that the bench could review the debate held in the parliament.
He moreover said that parliamentary proceedings could not be challenged in any court of law and that they enjoyed protection under Article 69 of the Constitution.
However, he inquired regarding the rationale behind the drafting of the law, adding that the parliamentary debate was revealing with respect to the new law’s legislation.
Earlier during Wednesday’s hearing, dropping a hint that the controversial contempt of court act would not be struck down in toto, the Supreme Court observed that the opposition should have resisted the passage of the law in the parliament instead of walking out of the house. The opposition should have stayed in the parliament to resist the ruling party’s move, said Chief Justice Iftikhar.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain described walkouts as an injustice with the electorate.
Only two clauses of the new law – one pertaining to immunity for holders of public office against contempt of court proceedings and the other about an automatic stay on the filing of an appeal – appeared to be areas of concern for the court and during the proceedings judges spoke about their respect for the parliament.
Legal experts are of the opinion that the two controversial clauses may be sent back by the court to the parliament for review.
Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja was the only judge who rejected the theory of parliament’s supremacy and recalled that the court had struck down statutes in the past as well.