The Supreme Court has ordered that Article 175-A that has been amended through the epic 18th Amendment be sent back to the Parliament for review as it harmed the independence of the judiciary. The apex court in its decision ordered that Article 175-A, detailing the amendments to the procedure of appointing superior court judges, be sent back to the parliament for review. “Parliament is asked to review Article 175-A, for it has harmed judiciary’s freedom,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry stated. It is significant that the apex court decided to send Article 175-A back to the parliament for reconsideration instead of striking it down. Some say that this is a “Middle of the Path decision”, avoiding what was feared to be an imminent collision with the parliament had the article been annulled directly.
The Supreme Court had started hearing of the case on May 24 and it took four months on the part of both sides to complete the arguments. The hearing continued with brief intervals for more than four months. A larger bench had concluded the hearing of the case on September 30 and reserved its judgment.
Around 20 petitions were filed in the SC challenging the amendment. However, most of the petitioners challenged the new procedure of appointment of judges in the superior and lower courts, under the amended Article 175-A of the Constitution.
The first petition was filed by Nadeem Ahmed Advocate (whose law firm incidentally has a client by the name of Ansar Abbasi) through his counsel Akram Sheikh. The second petition was filed by the District Bar Association Rawalpindi through Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry, who is also a candidate in the upcoming Supreme Court Bar elections. The third petition was filed by the Wattan Party through its chairman Barrister Zafar Ullah Khan. The fourth one was filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association through Hamid Khan and the fifth by the President of Pakistan Muslim League-Zia Ijaz-ul-Haq. The PML-Z chief mainly objected to article 63-A of the Constitution, which empowers a party leader to disqualify a party member from his membership to the parliament, even if he is not an elected representative.
Though confrontation has been avoided (apparently), what is surprising is that by sending it back to the parliament for review, the current process of appointment where the CJ is the main authority in presenting names for judicial officers remains the same. In this time, the parliamentary committee will not be formed and hence the jagga raj continues! I can only say, Go East, Go West, Our Supreme Court is the best.
Sources: Dawn.com and Tribune.com.pk