PA resolution asks judiciary to stay away from executive’s domain

Opposition in Punjab Assembly creates rumpus over alleged police action against PTI activists

LAHORE   -   Punjab Assembly on Monday passed a resolution against the alleged judicial interference in legislative and governmental affairs demanding of the judiciary to stay away from the executive’s domain.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution demanding appropriate punishment for those responsible for the May 9 incidents.It further stated that those involved be brought to justice, and that the masterminds and planners be severely punished. It was moved by IPP member Shoaib Siddiqui. A resolution banning the use of plastic bags was also approved.

Earlier, the turbulent session of the Punjab Assembly chaired by Acting Speaker Zaheer Iqbal Channar saw the opposition creating an uproar from the start, demanding the summoning of the IG Punjab to the House. Rana Aftab of the Sunni Ittehad Council stated that they would not allow the session to proceed as Punjab Police were engaging in thuggery, arresting their leaders and workers for organizing political activity, and registering cases against them. The opposition demanded that the IG be summoned to the House for an explanation, but the government rejected this demand, leading to further uproar in the House with chants against police brutality.

It became difficult for the acting speaker to run the proceedings as the opposition surrounded the speaker’s podium. At one point in time, the deputy speaker had to call security to protect himself against an expected onslaught from the opposition members.

The Opposition pointed out the quorum three times as it broke twice. However, the Treasury managed to maintain the quorum on the third time.  Amidst the opposition’s commotion, the government passed several bills, including the Punjab Public Employees, Police Order 2024, and the Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority Punjab.

The Assembly also passed a resolution calling for institutions to operate within their limits and for the judiciary not to interfere in legislative and governmental affairs. It was moved by Iftikhar Chachar of the PML-N.

“This House believes that the judiciary should not hear political cases that do not fall under the category of judicial review. Using such cases as a pretext to prevent the administration from fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities is inappropriate.The House also believes that all institutions and pillars should work within their constitutional boundaries so that Pakistan can be rescued from its ongoing crises”, read the resolution which also demanded that it was mandatory for each of the the three main components of the state-the administration, the judiciary, and the legislature- to stay within its defined boundaries.

“If one of them exceeds its limits and encroaches upon the domain of another, it leads to chaos and confusion in the state’s affairs”, the resolution read.

The resolution noted that Pakistan, a country with a history spanning 77 years, had faced this issue multiple times. Each time, it created a constitutional crisis. Sometimes, the judiciary overstepped its boundaries, and at other times, the executive or the legislature did so. Such actions have often led to significant problems in governance and administration.

Citing an example, the resolution said that after the imposition of martial law, the executive overstepped its boundaries, resulting in judicial and legislative decisions being sidelined. This created a situation where governance became problematic, and the rule of law was undermined.

“According to the 1973 Constitution, there was a specific framework for governance. However, when the executive took steps that exceeded its defined boundaries, it resulted in the judiciary stepping in to restore the balance. This interplay between different components of the state often led to instability and inefficiency”, the resolution said.

The Assembly resolution emphasized that the judiciary has a distinct and critical role in ensuring the rule of law. “When the executive or the legislature oversteps, it is the judiciary’s responsibility to address the issue and restore balance. However, when the judiciary itself overreaches, it can create a constitutional crisis”.

It further stated that it was essential for the administration, judiciary, and legislature to function within their respective domains to ensure a stable and effective governance system. The constitution provides a clear framework to prevent any component from exceeding its limits and encroaching upon the functions of another. This balance is crucial for maintaining the rule of law and ensuring smooth governance in the country.

The resolution further stated that the interference of judicial powers in the administration has been noted by the honorable judges of the judiciary in their own decisions. In the decision of the Supreme Court’s five-member bench on May 17, 2022, two honorable justices had to state in their dissenting notes that..

“Article 63-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a complete code in itself … any further interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution, in our view, would amount to rewriting or reading into the Constitution….”

Before passage of the resolution, Salma Butt of the PML-N cited four instances when the judiciary interfered in the executive’s affairs in the past. She mentioned that the Orange Line project suffered a loss of Rs 10 billion due to a stay order. “The PKLI project was halted by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, which was a legal overreach. The Lahore High Court issued a stay order on e-bikes, and the Islamabad High Court did the same for the cheap bread program,”, she said.  Salma asked: “Are they judges or Opposition”.

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