Rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir has questioned the role of the Supreme Court in the Panamagate case, and its recent verdict disqualifying the ex-prime minister from his office.
Speaking at a meet the press programme on Thursday, the former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) censured the apex court’s judgment in the case.
“I do not support Nawaz Sharif and I have never voted for the PML-N, but I support the rule of law and the principles. And I think voices should be raised when the highest court of the country breaks this principle,” she said, and also criticised the use of ‘Sicilian mafia’ words in the judgment.
“To achieve a democratic and progressive Pakistan, she said controversial laws introduced by dictators like Articles 62 and 63 needed to be done away with,” she said and called for ensuring fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution for all the people.
The rights activist also criticised the Supreme Court for its ‘wrong’ application of Article 184(3). She said instead of helping the marginalised sections, the top court had used this provision for memogate and to send a prime minister home.
She called for ensuring fundamental rights of the tribal people by extending jurisdiction of the Peshawar High Court and the Supreme Court to Fata.
Asma also stressed the need for improved relations with all neighbours, including India and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Asma Jahangir is reportedly facing severe criticism by the representatives of her own Democratic Group, following criticism of the top court’s judgment.
Judges challenge IHC judgment in Supreme Court
The group, which has majority in the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), issued a statement, expressing concerns over the statement.
PBC Vice Chairman Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon and Chairman Executive Committee Hafeezur Rehman expressed their utmost concern on the campaign of vilification against the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.
The office bearers “particularly deprecate the recent statements of some individuals targeting the Supreme Court, generally acclaimed for having demonstrated, in the recent past, its independence in giving judgments and verdicts in many important cases.” said the statement issued by the two representatives.
“The statements also tried to malign the institution of armed forces which has always performed exemplary role in defending the homeland against foreign aggression, maintaining law and order situation and defeating the menace of terrorism,” it added.
The lawyers went on to add that “calculated and motivated move and onslaught by individuals with vested interests at the behest of the ruling party, aiming to support ill deeds of its leader, culminated in amassing ill-gotten money of billions of rupees over the period of 35 years of being in power.”
This, they added, is at the cost of prestige of most important institution of the country, terming it “highly deplorable.”
The senior representatives said that the whole legal fraternity is unanimous in hailing the historic verdict of SC, given for the first time in the country’s history against a sitting Prime Minister.
The PBC officials made it clear that any move to undermine the prestige and dignity of the Supreme Court and the armed forces will be resisted with full force, and the legal fraternity will not hesitate to go to any extent to protect the judiciary, which, they said, is the last hope of the nation.
Altaf, Arslan. Asma Jahangir censures SC. The Express Tribune, August 4, 2017.