ISLAMABAD - Referring to the Supreme Court ruling over the Punjab chief minister’s election, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that there should not be double standards in judiciary to deal with different political parties as it is against the spirit of the Constitution that clearly defines the role of every state institution.

Addressing the National Assembly here yesterday, the prime minister said, “I ask that there was a time when a former chief justice took suo moto [notices] day and night ... when the courts summon then I think we should go with great respect. But if you have to decide then it should be on the basis of truth and justice. It can’t happen that you treat me one way and treat someone else differently.”

“I greatly respect the judiciary and was only talking about double standards,” he said, arguing that it was his right to do so as an elected representative of the people.

Commenting on the current situation in the country, the Prime Minister said every institutions will have to exercise their powers within the ambit of the Constitution. He said the role of every institution, including the judiciary, the executive and the Parliament, has been well defined in the Constitution. He said the Constitution will continue to guide and strengthen Pakistan no matter how much someone tries to meddle with it.

About the PTI’s government era, Sharif said that during the previous PTI government’s tenure “no one took notice” of various scandals such wheat and sugar crisis, the violation of its agreement with the International Monetary Fund as well as irregularities in the Peshawar BRT project.

“Who had planned to attack this parliament in 2014, who hung dirty clothes on the building of the Supreme Court, who asked the public to set fire to electricity bills. No one took notice, everyone was quiet,” he said, mentioning that the apex court had deemed the actions of former NA speaker Qasim Suri in March as a violation of the Constitution.

“[That was a] very good thing but no one summoned him. But the Punjab Assembly [deputy] speaker did an act and he was called to the court,” he said, referring to recent proceedings in the Supreme Court over the deputy speaker’s ruling.

He went to say that the Constitution outlined the role and jurisdiction of the courts and other institutions, within which they were supposed to work. He lamented that in the 75 years had passed, the Constitution was tampered with and martial law was imposed, causing Pakistan to break in two and impeding democratic growth.

The prime minister came down hard on the PTI government for its economic performance during its three-and-a-half years rule. “The coalition government had resolved to come in to power to save the country from default,” he claimed.

“Did we come [in power] through a backdoor? The change occurred through the power of vote, in accordance with the law. They changed that worst government and accepted the challenge [to rule],” he claimed.

The prime minister also addressed the country-wide devastation caused by monsoon rains and said the coalition government was well aware of it, adding that he himself had held meetings with the provinces on the matter. He said provincial governments were working day and night for relief operations and the centre was also playing its role.

PM says role of every state institution is defined in the Constitution n Judiciary didn’t take notice of Imran’s repeated violations of the Constitution n Bilawal calls for judicial reforms n NA passes resolution to form parliament’s special body to institute judicial reforms

He said he had called another meeting and that the government would increase the relief package announced for the people.

In his address to the house, Foreign Minister and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressed the need for judicial reforms, saying it was the need of the hour and that the government defend the role of the parliament.

He remarked that the parliament’s mandate was to form Constitution and the judiciary’s job was to interpret it. “They cannot bring amendments on their own?

Bilawal said it should not be a concern anymore whether a dictator came from Bani Gala or was sent by the establishment. “The parliament is supreme and it has the power to resolve all issues.”

The foreign minister said “A mere three judges cannot change the Constitution,” the minister said in reference to the SC ruling that saw Hamza Shehbaz’s victory in the chief minister election void. He also voiced his support for the formation of a joint parliamentary committee on judicial reforms, saying it was essential to protect the Constitution and democracy.

Earlier, the National Assembly passed a resolution to constitute a joint special committee of both the houses of Parliament to institute requisite judicial reforms, believing that it would ensure the supremacy of the Parliament.

The lawmakers, in a resolution moved by Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, took a step transgressing and encroaching upon powers of the Parliament by any other institution.

“This House resolves that to ensure the supremacy of the Parliament and the Constitution in letter and spirit, it hereby constitutes a special committee of both houses of the Parliament to institute requisite judicial reforms which are need of the hour,” says the resolution.

The resolution says the Parliament, being the representative of the will of people of Pakistan, shall not allow any other institutions to transgress and encroach on its powers.

“The august House believes that the Parliament is the supreme legislative body of the state of Pakistan, whereby the enactment of the laws including amendments in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 is sole prerogative of the Parliament.

The House observed in the resolution that the Constitution envisages trichotomy of powers among three organs of the state namely the legislature, executive and the judiciary, it is the Legislature which has been assigned the task of law making, the executive to execute such laws under the doctrine of separation of powers, the judiciary to interpret the laws, under doctrine of separation of  power, none of organs of state can encroach upon the powers of others.

The House also noted that whereas the Constitution of Pakistan has entrusted the Parliament with certain constitutional mandates including power to confirm the appointment of judges of the Superior Courts in terms of Article 175A of the Constitution.

The resolution passed by the National Assembly also pointed out that there is a long pending agenda of what is left over from the Charter of Democracy, and that the entire journey of democracy from 2008-2022 was defined by a search for parliamentary sovereignty, the supremacy of the Constitution and a balance of between all pillars of the state.

In another development, the ruling coalition partners - Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) discussed the future course of action after losing power in the influential Punjab province.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari held consultations as did other party leaders for damage control.

Afterwards, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari - who is also the Foreign Minister - launched a tirade against judiciary without mentioning Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan.

Bilawal said that it was not possible to have “one constitution for us and another for the apple of the eye.”

The PPP and the PML-N, according to sources, have decided to legislate and empower the parliament.

“The two parties have also decided to promote their narratives in and outside the parliament and discredit the PTI,” a senior PPP leader told The Nation.