Sunday, 31 October 2010
THE SUPREME COURT
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has never been out of the news for over a year now. This might be due in part to the efficiency of Supreme Court Media wing set up by the Chief Justice-an unheard of thing in any other Supreme Court to my knowledge. The Chief Justice himself has left no stone unturned to see that he is never far from the main headline in the media - the mid-night meeting called on the basis of an as yet unconfirmed news report, the order to the Prime Minister to submit a one line (or was it two) statement within an hour, and that obsession of obsessions; the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case are all juicy enough subjects to grab the headlines in our ‘breaking news’ crazy media. One has to ask; is it necessary for the Supreme Court to always remain in the headlines or is the Supreme Court better off quietly doing its job of handing down justice to the meek and down-trodden? The judges were busy past midnight on Thursday chalking out strategy to counter a de-notification of the restoration notification just on the basis of an as yet unconfirmed news leak and all 17 of them were busy all of Friday waiting for the PM to write one line to assuage their fears of de-notification of just 3 of the judges’ restoration? And what happened? The PM rightly refused and addressed the nation on Sunday explaining that his word was his bond and that he would not write what the SC had asked him to. The SC which had, for reasons best known to it, not listed any other case on Monday, backed down and the case was adjourned sine die. Two full days of the Court were lost for nothing. All the hype was in vain. How many precious hours were wasted and who is to account for them? What of the old, poor and down-trodden who have decade old cases still pending? Is this justice that the now bathed in milk judiciary was expected to hand down?
And now for the NRO cases. Justice Ad-hoc Ramday is reported to have asked; ‘Is it our fault if Parliament fails to ratify the NRO?” That, your honour, is the wrong question to ask. This blogger had already raised the question in an earlier post as to under what provision of the Constitution had the SC revived an Ordinance which was already dead according to a specific provision (Article 89) of the Constitution? The Supreme Court has only the power to interpret the Constitution and is itself bound by it. It does not have the power to amend it. Why was the NRO revived when it had died its death under a specific and unambiguous provision of the Constitution? Unfortunately it seems that the Supreme Court has forgotten that it lays down the law not only for the present but also for posterity. Decisions which make headlines today will also have to be read and applied when the present becomes the past. That realization seems to be missing.