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Sharif’s anti-judiciary rhetoric has his lawyers worried

Discussion in 'Pakistani Siasat' started by Zibago, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. Zibago


    Feb 21, 2012
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    Sharif’s anti-judiciary rhetoric has his lawyers worried
    By Hasnaat Malik
    Published: August 12, 2017
    Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: REUTERS

    ISLAMABAD: Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s fiery speeches purportedly against Supreme Court judges have worried the wrong set of lawyers – the PML-N’s own legal wizards.

    “I don’t think it is prudent to target judges right before challenging the SC’s July 28 verdict,” a senior PML-N lawyer, who was part of Sharif’s cabinet, told The Express Tribune.

    Sources revealed that a draft of the review petition against the July 28 verdict disqualifying Sharif from holding any public office has already been prepared, but the legal team is holding off on filing it.

    A senior PML-N leader said that with the prevailing political situation in mind, it is a safe bet that the judgment will be challenged next week. He admitted that now is not appropriate time to file a review as on the one hand, the judges are targets of the former premier’s criticism, and on the other hand, he would be requesting them [judges] to reverse their ruling.

    He revealed that the legal eagles are also pondering the option of filing an appeal along with the review petition as the latter has very limited scope to reverse the judgment.

    Some legal experts, however, said there is no legal provision to file an appeal against the SC’s Panamagate verdict, which was delivered under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.

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    Internal dissent

    Some senior party leaders and those familiar with the law books were miffed by Sharif’s aggressive speeches during his addresses in the ongoing GT Road rally.

    They believe that the government’s policy of leaking information against the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and the apex court, such as the purported WhatsApp call by the SC registrar, has already damaged the Sharif family’s case.

    Relations between the PML-N government and the Supreme Court have been tense since the six-member JIT which probed into the Sharif family’s murky business dealings abroad began calling them in.

    Judges were visibly upset by the government’s media campaign targeting the judiciary and the JIT. Their annoyance could also be gauged by their remarks during the recent hearings of the implementation bench on the Panama Papers case. Even the three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, had pointed out that eight people were targeting the Supreme Court and JIT on the media.

    However, PML-N Lawyers Forum chief Sadique Awan, while defending Sharif’s speeches, said the SC judgment is a public property and everyone can criticise it. “I believe the July 28 verdict is a stigma on the judiciary and is being condemned by every segment of society,” he added.

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    Awan went on to say that PML-N lawyers had given lots of sacrifices for the restoration of these judges in 2007 and they are very disappointed by their ruling on the disqualification of Sharif. He urged that a larger bench should be constituted to hear the appeal against the verdict and that the judges who were on the bench that gave the July 28 verdict should be excluded from this new bench.

    External anger

    On the other hand, representatives of superior bars are urging the Supreme Court to initiate contempt proceedings against Sharif for using derogatory language against the judges. “I will request the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to take notice of the PML-N’s malicious campaign against the judiciary,” said Supreme Court Bar Association General Secretary Aftab Bajwa.

    During the tenure of former CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the top court had issued contempt notices against a plethora of politicians, most notably former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf.

    PTI chairman Imran Khan, MQM founder Altaf Hussain, and PPP leaders Taj Haider, Sharjeel Memon, Babar Awan, and Rehman Malik were among the others on the list.

    After the issuance of its July 31, 2009 verdict, the apex court had also initiated contempt proceedings against the superior court judges who had taken oath under Musharraf’s Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). A special bench was later constituted to initiate contempt proceedings against more than 60 PCO judges, but with the passage of time, most of them submitted unconditional apologies and the cases were dropped.

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    When the Arsalan Iftikhar case came up in June 2012, contempt proceedings were initiated against a business tycoon for allegedly ridiculing the judiciary during a news conference. Likewise, the court had also served contempt notices to the owner of a media house and two TV anchors for airing a ‘planted interview’ with the business tycoon in a special talk show on June 13, 2012.

    On September 25, 2012, the Supreme Court had indicted the chief editor of an English magazine for scandalising and disrespecting the judiciary by publishing a news report about an email allegedly written by the Supreme Court registrar to seek the tax returns and verification of receipts from British companies which had provided services to Iftikhar.

    A contempt notice was also issued against former NAB chairman Fasih Bukhari for writing a letter to the president of Pakistan against the Supreme Court. Most of these contempt cases are still pending in the apex court.

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