Pakistan Supreme Court upholds emergency rule, dismissal of judges

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] Friday upheld [judgment text] President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) [text] and accompanying proclamation of emergency. The seven member bench of the court ruling on the issue - made up entirely of judges named to their posts after the emergency decree - additionally condemned the "judicial activism" of the superior courts prior to the emergency for making the machinery of government "paralyzed and nugatory" and declared officially dismissed all the judges who had refused to swear an oath to the government under the PCO.

The court wrote:

In the recent past the whole of Pakistan was afflicted with extremism, terrorism and suicide attacks using bombs, hand grenades, missiles, mines, including similar attacks on the armed forces and law enforcing agencies, which reached climax on 18th of October 2007 when in a similar attack on a public rally, at least 150 people were killed and more than 500 seriously injured. The extremists/terrorists resorted to abduction of foreigners, which badly impaired the image of Pakistan in the comity of nations, and adversely affected its economic growth. The situation in Islamabad and various places in NWFP, Balochistan and tribal areas was analogous to “a state within the state”. Unfortunately, no effort by the government succeeded in curbing extremism, terrorism and suicide attacks. The Prime Minister apprised the President of the situation through his letter of the 3rd of November 2007;

(ii) The Constitution of Pakistan is based on the principle of trichotomy of powers. All the three organs of the State, namely, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary are required to perform their functions and exercise their powers within their specified sphere. Unfortunately, some members of the superior judiciary by way of judicial activism transgressed the constitutional limits and ignored the well-entrenched principle of judicial restraint. Thousands of applications involving individual grievances were being processed as suo motu cases ostensibly in the exercise of power under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, which provision is resorted to the enforcement of fundamental rights involving questions of law of general public importance. Instances of transgression of judicial authority at large scale may be found in the cases of determination of prices of fruits, vegetables and other edibles, suspension and transfers of government officials, frequent directions to enact particular laws, stoppage of various development projects, such as New Murree City, Islamabad Chalets, Lahore Canal Road and many more. They rendered the state machinery, particularly legislative and executive branches of the government paralyzed and nugatory. They made ineffective the institution of the Supreme Judicial Council set up under the Constitution for the accountability of the members of the superior judiciary;

(iii) The sum total of the circumstances led to a situation where the running of the government in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution became impossible for which the Constitution provided no remedy or satisfactory solution. There was a strong apprehension of disastrous consequences that would have followed in case the action of the 3rd day of November 2007 was not taken by the Chief of Army Staff/President...

The extra-constitutional steps of Proclamation of Emergency of the 3rd day of November, 2007, the Provisional Constitution Order No.1 of 2007, the Provisional Constitution (Amendment) Order, 2007, the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007 and the President’s Order No. 5 of 2007 are hereby declared to have been validly made by the Chief of Army Staff/President subject to the condition that the country shall be governed, as nearly as may be, in accordance with the Constitution. All acts and actions taken for the orderly running of the State and for the advancement and good of the people are also validated.

We further hold and direct [that]...

The learned Chief Justices and Judges of the superior courts, (Supreme Court of Pakistan, Federal Shariat Court and the High Courts), who have not been given, and who have not made, oath under the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2007 have ceased to hold their respective offices on the 3rd of November 2007. Their cases cannot be re-opened being hit by the doctrine of past and closed transaction; and...

The Proclamation of Emergency of the 3rd day of November, 2007 shall be revoked by the President and/or the Chief of Army Staff at the earliest so that the period of constitutional deviation is brought to an end. However, this Court may, at any stage, re-examine the continuation of the Proclamation of Emergency if the circumstances so warrant.
The ruling was not unexpected by lawyers opposed to emergency rule, who told JURIST earlier this month that the petition [JURIST reports] ruled on Friday was being filed to put a "stamp of legitimacy to the illegal acts of this government." The News has more. PTI has additional coverage.


 

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