ISLAMABAD: Leaders of Pakistan’s ruling coalition parties held a consultative meeting on Saturday, following an invitation from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, to address the ongoing situation amid a deepening judicial crisis in the country.
A joint statement was issued, expressing the coalition’s lack of confidence in the three-member bench and calling for general elections to be held on the same day nationwide.
Demand for transparent and impartial elections
The statement stressed that holding transparent and impartial elections is a fundamental constitutional requirement, and any deviation from this will push the country into political crisis. It also referred to a note by dissenting judges of the Supreme Court, stating that the chief justice wanted to impose a minority decision as a larger bench of the apex court had already “dismissed” the suo moto hearing of the case on Punjab polls delay by a majority of four judges against three. The coalition also urged Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial to initiate proceedings on references filed under Article 209 by the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and other lawyers’ bar associations.
Respect for the decision of Justice Qazi Faez Isa-led bench
The communiqué emphasized the importance of respecting the decision announced by the Justice Qazi Faez Isa-led bench, and noted that SC Judge Qazi Faiz Isa had directed to stay proceedings on suo moto cases initiated under Article 184(3) until amendments are made to the Supreme Court’s rules governing the chief justice’s discretionary powers.
Reservations over inclusion of SC Judge Ijazul Ahsan in bench
The ruling coalition expressed reservations over the inclusion of SC Judge Ijazul Ahsan in the bench hearing the polls delay case, saying it was “unfair” for him to be included in the bench again. The alliance observed that the prevailing circumstances require the chief justice and other judges of the three-member bench to recuse themselves from hearing the case.
Endorsement of recent legislation on judicial reforms
The meeting of coalition partners also endorsed the recent legislation on judicial reforms, the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, aimed at curbing the top judge’s suo moto powers in an individual capacity. The coalition stated that the legislation will end the practice of one-sided justice and hoped that the president will not obstruct legislation on the basis of his party affiliation, as parliament is the supreme institution whose opinion should be respected by all.
Overall, the joint statement issued by the ruling coalition parties highlighted their concerns and demands amid the deepening judicial crisis in Pakistan.