Vawda seeks contempt proceedings by Senate against sitting judge

Senator says the serving judge has no right to label him as proxy  No plan to change policy towards solar power net-metering, govt informs Senate.

ISLAMABAD  -   In a rare development, independent Senator Faisal Vawda Tuesday sought contempt proceedings by the Senate against a sitting judge of the Supreme Court Justice Athar Minallah for labelling him as a proxy.

The former federal minister and a dissident member of PTI Vawda accused the judge of not only questioning his integrity but also of the upper house of the parliament.

Last week, the Supreme Court had issued show cause notices to two parliamentarians, including Senator Vawda and MNA Mustafa Kamal, over contempt charges for their outburst against the judiciary.  

Speaking on a point of public concern, Senator Vawda announced to surrender before the house as a law-abiding citizen and added, “I am moving a privilege motion sort of thing (in the house) seeking action against Judge Athar Minallah.” He requested Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar to also look into the matter.

“It is up to the house, or the chair or the committee to take action against him (the judge),” he said and added “My faith-line is stronger than my lifeline. I am here to serve Pakistan in any capacity. I am going to fight till the end.”

He focused his speech on discussing the alleged ‘misconduct of certain judges’, whom he called black sheep seeking their removal.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman, who was presiding over the session, gave full opportunity to the lawmaker to speak over the conduct of the judges though the constitution and house rules did not allow this to do so. Senator Rehman later clarified that Vawda had been given a chance because he was directly affected by the matter — a reference of contempt notice.

Referring to his recent controversial news conference, Senator Vawda said he owned each and every word he had uttered and stood by it. He contended that the judge, in a comment, had called him a proxy without evidence and this was flashed by Indian newspapers and international media, defaming him and the country. He alleged this term was used for him out of his prejudice and bias against him.

“How dare a judge can question my integrity without evidence?” he said, adding that the judge will have to produce evidence as he would not compromise over the issue.

Senator Vawda regretted that when anyone else committed any wrong, he was summoned and proceeded against but when a judge resorted to ‘misconduct’, it was called a mistake and no action was even taken. He labelled that the hanging of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and lifetime disqualification of former PM Nawaz Sharif from holding office were judicial mistakes.

Vawda insisted that he could not talk about the conduct of a judge but the Constitution and the law allowed him fully to speak on their misconduct.

He referred to a number of alleged ‘cases of misconduct’ of judges of high courts and recalled when the Lahore High Court had written a letter on February 7, 2023, for provision of VVIP passes for cricket matches. He added that the LHC later conceded that this letter was a mistake.

He also claimed that subordinate judges had also raised their voice against Islamabad High Court (IHC) Judge Mohsin Akhtar Kayani.

PML-N Senator Irfan Siddiqui speaking on the issue alleged the superior judiciary had a history of violating the Constitution and amending the constitution at their will.

Referring to the remarks made by Justice Minallah that following  code of conduct of Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) can revolutionize judiciary,  he said “what to talk about Imam Abu Hanifa, you could not even become (Justice) Cornelius or (Justice) Bhagwandas”.

“Look at your character, acts and morality. Your tongue runs more than your pen does”, he remarked.

He referred to the code of conduct for judges modified by the judiciary itself in 2011 and said Article 2 of the Code reads, “While dispensing justice, a judge should be strong without being rough, polite without being weak, awe inspiring in his warnings and faithful to his word…..”

He said the Article was like Articles 62 and Article 63 of the constitution were for lawmakers but the former was rarely applied on judges.

BAP Senator Manzoor Ahmad Kakar said the judiciary’s respect was not more than those of the parliamentarians.

The house was also informed that the government had no plans to disincentivize those households who had invested in solar systems.

Responding to a calling attention notice, Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said the government was not going to change the policy regarding solar and net metering. He made it clear that the agreements with the solar energy users would be honoured.

He assured the house that any change in future warranted by dynamics would be taken in consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

“Let me assure the house there is no such policy that is going to change any conditions of net metering,” he said.

The Senate also adopted a unanimous resolution, expressing its profound grief and sorrow over the martyrdom of Iranian President Dr Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and others in a tragic helicopter crash.

The resolution moved by Senator Sherry Rehman acknowledged that President Raisi was a great leader of the Muslim World and a true friend of Pakistan. “Pakistan stands in solidarity with the Iranian nation in this hour of grief and we join Iranian brothers and sisters in mourning this irreparable loss,” it reads.

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