Nawaz wants CJ’s input in Rabbani panel’s proposals
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
By Tariq Butt
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Quaid Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has urged Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani to seek opinion and input of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on the Raza Rabbani committee’s proposals on constitutional amendments relating to the appointment of judges to superior courts.
“We should take the superior judiciary on board before introducing constitutional amendments about it because it is the major stakeholder as far as the judges’ nominations are concerned,” the PML-N Quaid told the prime minister when they met on a breakfast at Raiwind on Feb 22, according to a participant.
He said Gilani was not opposed to the idea and promised the government would try to get views of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on the amendments when the Raza Rabbani led parliamentary committee finalises the package.
The source said the basic objective behind Nawaz Sharif’s suggestion was to avoid any bad blood between the Supreme Court and parliament and to ensure these changes do not subsequently become a bone ofcontention between the two institutions on judiciary-related matters.
However, a senior legal source said so far the judiciary has not received the proposed amendments from the parliamentary committee or any government quarter. “We have just read these proposed constitutional changes in newspapers.”
However, another committee member said the parliamentary committee had sponsored an advertisement in newspapers to elicit views of all stakeholders about the task taken up by it. He said it received a large number of proposals from different sections of the society, which the committee took into consideration, but nothing was sent by the judiciary.
He said there was still time to get views of the chief justice because the amendment bill containing the whole package of constitutional changes would have to pass through different stages.
The member said the committee was ensuring that no amendment was against the fundamental spirit of the Constitution, which provided that no change could be made affecting the independence of judiciary.
He said after laying the bill in the National Assembly and the Senate it would be referred to the two standing committees on law, which could deliberate upon it collectively or separately in order to finalise it in all respects. He said the chief justice’s opinion could be sought during the discussion on the amendments by the two house bodies or even after their clearance.
However, most members of the committee are not in favour of sending the bill to the chief justice to get his opinion on the ground that the body did receive a large number of proposals from the bar associations and other representative organisations of lawyers, which kept in view the independence of judiciary.
Way back in 1998 at the height of confrontation between the then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the then-Supreme Court chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah, one bench of the apex court had shot down in no time the 14th amendment bill immediately after it was passed by parliament and another had overturned this decision within minutes, making a mockery of the superior judiciary.