Senators target judiciary over usage of contempt powers

Senator Azam Tarar says judiciary’s contempt power should not be used as a weapon. Senator Mohsin says parliament must not be used to advance personal agendas.

ISLAMABAD   -  As criticism against judiciary continued in the Senate for the second consecutive day, some lawmakers opposed the move to “use the parliament against an institution and to target the judges of superior judiciary.”

Taking part in the discussion over the alleged controversial role of the judiciary in using contempt powers, ANP Senator Aimal Wali Khan in his maiden speech in the house underlined that the parliament was being used against an institution.

He added that nobody was talking about those using the parliament once again. He pointed out that the agenda for the session was different but it appeared that the house had specifically been convened to attack the judiciary and judges.

Referring to the ruling coalition, President ANP Aimal said those who were talking about rule of law and the Constitution today were the beneficiaries in the past. He said a game was being played under which beneficiaries of the past become victims and vice versa. “They accept everything when they are among beneficiaries,” he noted. He said they would not talk about missing persons and added that it was the issue of enforced disappearances that had brought the judiciary and the parliament face to face.

The opposition PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz called for respecting all the institutions and advised that parliament must not be used to advance personal agendas. He recalled that Senator Faisal Vawda had been disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for holding dual nationality and the decision had been upheld by the judiciary.

He lamented that nobody ever talked against denial of level-playing field to the PTI during the general elections, and registration of politically motivated cases against the party founder Imran Khan.

JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza endorsed views of his two colleagues by saying that they stood for the respect of the members and the house but the only objective behind summoning the session, in haste, was apparently targeting some judges. “A supreme court judge and some judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) are on the target,” he said, adding that reasons for this were crystal clear. “Judges are targeted in the country when judgments don’t come according to wishes of some certain people.”

Senator Kamran said that the Senate was called into session despite it had no meaningful business and it started a debate on a sub judice matter when a contempt notice had been summoned to the member of the house Vawda. “Whether it is good that treasury members target some intuition and the judges sitting over there,” he said. It looked like a proxy has started against some judges and we have become accomplices in moving forward this proxy, he added.

He underlined that when a contempt notice had been issued under a prevailing law, it was the biggest injustice that the matter was being debated in the house for the last two days.

MQM Senator Faisal Sabzwari said a game involving selective justice was being played in the name of contempt.

He said it appeared that apart from the chosen representatives, everybody else has respect. He regretted that insulting remarks against elected representatives were passed by the judiciary. He insisted that the parliament was supreme and no institution was above it.

PML-N Senator Talal Chaudhary said that he was awarded a sentence in the past on contempt of court charges for standing by his party leadership in the Panama case.

“I had demanded removal of PCO judges during a public meeting and had not talked about any lawful judge,” he said.

He said the dignity of the judiciary could be enhanced by punishing breakers of the Constitution and not the framers of the Constitution.

Winding up the debate related to judiciary, Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs Azam Nazeer Tarar clarified that the session was summoned according to the parliamentary calendar. He said it was not a matter of clash of institutions but added they needed some introspection.

The law minister said that it was being discussed in the parliament for the last many years whether only politicians were on the receiving end. He said that the constitution did not allow any court to order whatever it had in mind.

“Parliament is supreme,” he said, adding that politicians must speak for the respect of their own institution.

Referring to the remarks of a judge of the Supreme Court about Senator Vawda, he regretted that it was inappropriate to say about a member of the house that he was an agent of someone.

Senator Tarar warned that the contempt power of the judiciary should not be used as a weapon and the judiciary should follow the principle of showing restraint. He requested the chair that the matter be referred to the Senate Secretariat for preparation of a report on it and the same should be presented to the chairman for f

uture course of action.

Before the adjournment of the session till Friday, Presiding Officer Senator Sherry Rehman ruled that the matter raised by Vawda was of serious nature and directed the secretariat to examine it in the light of constitutional provisions and house rules and submit the report to the chairman Senate.

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