Pak Assembly's move to form committee to file case against Chief Justice

Islamabad: In the latest manifestation of increasing schism in Pakistan, the parliament on Monday passed a resolution to set up a five-member committee to prepare and file cases against Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial in the Supreme Judicial Council for his "misconduct and deviating from oath".

Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Dr Shazia Sobia tabled the resolution in the National Assembly for the formation of the committee to file references with the Supreme Judicial Council against any judge or judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The lower house unanimously adopted the motion.

The Supreme Judicial Council is the only forum to proceed against any sitting judge.

The move comes as the government has increased pressure on the Supreme Court after a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Bandial on Friday granted bail to former prime minister Imran Khan after he was arrested on charges of corruption.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that the time has come for Parliament to play its constitutional role in this situation.

Asif demanded the formation of a parliamentary committee to probe the judiciary's undue support to Khan as well as sending a reference to the Supreme Judicial Council under Article 209 of the Constitution on the matter.

"In the 75-year history of the country's judiciary, there had been incidents that have had a profound impact on the country, but recently a group in the judiciary started supporting a political group," he said.

"The time has come for Parliament to send a reference of misconduct to the Supreme Judicial Council, under the authority and law given to it by the Constitution, Asif added.

On the attacks on the Corps Commander's house in Lahore, a Rangers post in Karachi, the Army's General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and the PAF Base at Mianwali, he said that protection was being provided to those who desecrate the "memorials of martyrs."

He said that Khan's violent supporters on the direction of their leadership had attacked Jinnah house, which was a shameful act as the building was a national heritage of the country.

The development comes as PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif on Monday demanded the resignation of Chief Justice Bandial and blamed him for the "anarchy" and "crisis" in the country as she joined the ruling coalition's sit-in outside the apex court to protest some of the recent rulings which they said provided blanket relief to Khan.

The resolution was unanimously adopted but it has no legal value unless changes are made in the relevant laws to file a complaint against judges of superior judiciary, according legal experts.

"The current law says that the president should file a reference (complaint) against a sitting judge on the advice of the prime minister, senior lawyer Hamid Khan said, adding that the president should also apply his mind before filing the complaint.

The resolution shows the increasing divide between the judiciary and parliament amidst the deepening political unrest and economic meltdown.

( Source : PTI )
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