ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court, while declaring the Contempt of Court Act, 2012, unconstitutional, has mentioned that “the judiciary has never claimed supremacy over other organs of the state”. Moreover, the chief justice, in the short order striking down the contempt law, has also written that person-specific laws cannot be promulgated as such laws cause injustice in the society.
Regarding the person-specific laws, the short order of the court says: “It is also one of the recognised principles of jurisprudence that person-specific laws cannot be promulgated because such exercise instead of promoting the administration of justice causes injustice in the society amongst the citizens who are being governed under the Constitution, particularly, in a matter relating to implementation of court orders following the directions of the court.
“The courts have always made efforts to avoid enforcement of their orders by taking extreme steps of punishing the delinquents for disobeying the orders/judgments. However, if an act of contempt of court persists and no prompt action is taken, the court loses its authority and all its decisions and the judgments will be considered mere paper decrees, therefore, to maintain its dignity and respect and to restore the confidence of the citizens in the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law, as a last resort, proceedings for contempt of court are initiated.”
The court has also mentioned that the Contempt of Court Act, 2012, had been promulgated in a haste to save the new prime minister as admitted by the federation’s lawyer. The order added that the courts had always made efforts to avoid enforcement of its orders by taking extreme steps of punishing the delinquents for disobeying the orders/judgments and that the court will lose its dignity if a contempt law protects the contemnors.
A five-member bench of the SC, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, also held that the Supreme Court has the power of judicial review to examine the constitutionality of any provision of an enactment. “It may be mentioned that this court has the power of judicial review to examine the constitutionality of any provision of any enactment, if the same is found to be contrary to the fundamental rights as well as constitutional provisions. A perusal of COCA 2012 suggests that it has been promulgated in haste obviously for reasons which have been admitted by learned counsel for the federation in the wake of history of the impugned legislation narrated hereinabove, including the recent decision of seven-member bench passed on 26.04.2012, in pursuance whereof the then prime minister was found guilty of contempt of court followed by another judgment declaring him to be disqualified from being a member of parliament in terms of article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution,” the short order says.
The order adds that the apprehensions expressed by the counsel for the federation were unfounded that the new prime minister could also fall victim to the contempt law. “Pakistan has a written Constitution and all the organs of the state, namely, legislature, executive and the judiciary are functioning within their respective domains. The judiciary has never claimed supremacy over other organs of the state. However, it has a duty to interpret the Constitution and law as well as to examine the constitutionality of any law if it is concluded that it has been promulgated in derogation of the fundamental rights as envisaged by Article 8 of the Constitution, or where any of the provision of any law is found contrary to the Constitution.”
Updated at: 18 May 2013
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Updated at: 18 May 2013
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