Pakistan high court reinstates suspended chief justice

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] ruled 10-3 Friday to reinstate suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive] to the top court, holding that President Pervez Musharraf's March 9 suspension order [JURIST report] was illegal. The court dismissed all charges of misconduct [JURIST report] against Chaudhry.

Many Pakistani lawyers and opposition leaders have alleged that Chaudhry's suspension was an indirect bid by Musharraf to forestall any legal challenges if Musharraf seeks to extend his eight-year rule by another five years later this year. BBC News has more.

8:31 AM ET - The Court's ruling [text] is now available. The court wrote:

The appointments in question of the Hon'ble Acting Chief Justices of Pakistan vide notification dated 9.3.2007 and the notification dated 22.3.2007 are, unanimously, declared to have been made without lawful authority. However, this in-validity shall not affect the ordinary working of the Supreme Court or the discharge of any other Constitutional and/or legal obligations by the Hon'ble Acting Chief Justices of Pakistan during the period in question and this declaration is so made by applying the de-facto doctrine....

By majority of 10 to 3 (Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, J., M. Javed Buttar, J. and Saiyed Saeed Ashhad, J. dissenting), this Constitution Original Petition No.21 of 2007 filed by Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, is allowed as a result whereof the above-mentioned direction (the Reference) of the President dated March 9, 2007 is set aside. As a further consequence thereof, the petitioner CJP shall be deemed to be holding the said office and shall always be deemed to have been so holding the same.
The court said it will issue a more detailed judgment at a later time.
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