ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court here Tuesday resumed the identical petitions against the newly formed contempt Law, seeking record of the law Aaj News reported.
A five-judge bench comprising of Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain heard identical petitions filed by lawyers’ bodies and the Pakistan Bar Council.
During the hearing, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked that this law was an attempt at granting immunity to the elite class.
Rejecting on Monday the federation’s plea for constitution of a full court bench to hear a number of petitions against the recently passed Contempt of Court Act 2012, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed that “constitution of a bench is the sole prerogative of court.”
The federation’s counsel, Abdul Shakoor Piracha, submitted that the case could be heard by a full court. He sought time of one to two weeks on the petitions against the contempt law.
Addressing Piracha’s request, the Chief Justice said the court had already given ample time to the federation, adding that the issue was highly significant and it warranted a decision. The bench observed that Article 204 of Constitution empowered the Supreme Court to make rules. The rule-making power cannot be given to the parliament or the executive. The Contempt of Court Act 2012 is repealing those provisions, which have already been repealed, according to the bench.
Ikram Chaudhry, the counsel for petitioner Siddique Baloch, said the new law violated Articles 175 and 204, adding that the Contempt of Court Act 2012 was another National Reconciliation Ordinance which encroached upon the independence of judiciary. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said that all the petitions filed by lawyers’ associations and advocates wanted that the new Act should be set aside. He said that according to item 55 of the Federal Legislative List the power of the Court can’t be enlarged or minimised. Justice Tassadque Hussain Jillani inquired from the counsel to indentify those Sections of the Act which, according to him (the counsel), were violative of the Constitution. “We are more concerned with the administration of the justice… If we can’t enforce judgements then what is the use of passing verdicts?” he remarked.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked that under the new law, scandalising a judge was contempt but ridiculing the court wasn’t. He also asked the counsel to apprise the bench about Sections of the act that militated against the Constitution. Syed Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi, another petitioner, argued that the new law was passed to protect certain personalities and curtail independence of the court. He said that the government wanted to save Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf from contempt of court through this law.
As the matter was sub judice the federal cabinet and the parliament were required to have avoided the passage of the new contempt law, he said, urging the court to suspend the new law immediately and later declare it null and void. Some of the petitioners have alleged that the Contempt of Court Act 2012 is an attempt to grant immunity to all public office holders against contempt of court in general and to save the incumbent Prime Minister from facing the fate of his predecessor’s, in particular.