Sunday, February 24, 2008
Some excerpts follow here, full story at Dawn website
LAHORE / HYDERABAD, Feb 23: The legal community kept up the momentum in their ongoing campaign for the reinstatement of deposed judges by using different events of their bar associations held on Saturday to spotlight their demands. At one such event Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Aitzaz Ahsan warned the leaderships of the PPP and PML-N to get the deposed judges reinstated quickly or face a movement themselves.
“The lawyers are providing a chance to the new parliament to reinstate the judges, otherwise they are all set to hold a rally in Islamabad on March 9,” Mr Ahsan said.
The SCBA leader’s detention was relaxed for a short period to allow him to cast his vote in the LHCBA election on Saturday.
Mr Ahsan said the PCO, which led to removal of over 60 judges, including the deposed chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, would obstruct the functioning of the new parliament.
Referring to the Supreme Court verdict on the reinstatement of the chief justice, Mr Ahsan said the decision had held out that no judge of the superior judiciary could be removed unless the Supreme Judicial Council decided to do so under Article 209 of the Constitution.
He said if the Nov 3 PCO was not discarded, it would provide legitimacy to future army chiefs to impose emergency, usurp the basic rights of the people and amend the Constitution, forcing the future governments to follow it.
The center of ‘power gravity’ would remain with the parliament if the judges were restored, otherwise it would shift to streets because the lawyers would not abandon their principled demands at any cost, he said.
“If the leadership of both the parties want the parliament to take a decision on judges’ restoration, we give them a chance,” he said. However, he warned, the tide of the lawyers’ movement would turn against them if they did not reinstate the deposed judges. Mr Ahsan said Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his three children had been confined to the four walls of their house over the past three and a half months. During this period the children had not only been denied access to their schools, the whole family was without electricity, water and gas.
He condemned a caretaker minister for asking the deposed chief justice to vacate his residence. “If he is interested in getting the official residences vacated, he should get the Army House vacated from Gen (retd) Musharraf first,” Mr Ahsan said.
Former Supreme Court Bar Association (SBCA) president Munir A. Malik said that only an executive order was sufficient to enable deposed judges to assume charge of their offices, but a resolution adopted by newly elected parliament would certainly strengthen the position of judges.
“We believe that judges stood reinstated after the lifting of emergency and only an executive order is sufficient to restore them to the pre-Nov 3 position.
“However, a resolution from parliament will be needed to strengthen this position,” he said.
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By Nasir Iqbal and Ashraf Mumtaz
ISLAMABAD / LAHORE, Feb 23: Controversy lies in store for the opening session of the new National Assembly as the interim government’s legal experts have decided to get printed a fresh edition of the Constitution, incorporating all amendments introduced by President Pervez Musharraf during the emergency rule.
The question haunting the PML-N and PPP’s legislators-elect alike is: will they take oath under the amended Constitution, which has been ‘validated’ by the Supreme Court?
Both parties have already rejected these amendments and termed them “unconstitutional and invalid”. They contend that the amendments have been made by an individual instead of the parliament.
The government insists the imposition of emergency (on Nov 3), the enforcement of the Provisional Constitution Order, sacking of judges and other steps taken by the president during emergency had been validated by the apex court and made part of the Constitution.
It also asserts that the legislators-elect taking oath under the amended Constitution would, by implication, be endorsing all these steps.
The PPP has said that it would not give a blanket cover to all steps taken by President Musharraf during emergency.
A PML-N leader said on Saturday that the matter was under consideration and some solution would be found by the time the National Assembly holds its inaugural session.
“Obviously (the new version of) the Constitution would contain Article 270AAA under which amendments made before and during the … emergency rule were given perpetual legal cover,” said a senior government official.
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