ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Thursday decided a full court , comprising 17 judges, will hear petitions against 21st Amendment, for establishment of military courts , after also receiving concise statements on 18th Amendment case, as a question of basic structure has been raised in them.
The bench granted 10 more days to the federal, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan governments to file statements on pleas against setting up of military courts and the petition of Nadeem Ahmed, who had challenged the 18th Amendment, particularly addition of Article 175A in the Constitution.
After the submission of concise statements the matter shall be referred to the full court the chief justice said.
A three-member headed by Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk heard 11 constitutional petitions against 21st amendment. Onset of the hearing, the chief justice inquired about the concise statement on the Lahore High Court Bar Association petition. The attorney and advocates general remained quite.
On the last hearing on January 28 the bench had issued notices to Attorney General for Pakistan and advocate generals of the all the provinces with the direction to submit replies. However, except Advocate General Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa other did not file the concise statements.
The chief justice said that the ample time was granted for filing concise statements as the legal issues were raised in the petition. Attorney General Salman Butt responded; “Certain factual issues have been raised, therefore, we want little time to highlight them.”
The Chief Justice said there were no factual assertions, but the common legal grounds have been taken up in all the petitions . Upon that the AGP said the legal questions are very important.
Then the CJP said in the 18th Amendment case also the basic structure issue was raised, which has been pending for the last four years. He said though the order had been passed in the 18th Amendment case but now certain requests were received for its review. Justice Nasir told that in the Judicial Commission this issue was raised twice for changing its rules, adding unless that order is reviewed no amendments in the Judicial Commission rules could be made.
Hamid Khan, representing LHCBA, argued that the order in 18th Amendment was passed. He the order was implemented when the parliament passed the 19th Amendment.
The full court on 21st October 2010 had referred the superior courts’ judges appointment issue, to Parliament for re-consideration.
The chief justice questioned but whether the matter can be proceeded or not? Hamid Khan replied: “Let that matter be fixed but should be heard separately. The chief justice maintained that the constitutional issues were raised but the common grounds are the same as raised in the petitions against 21st Amendment.”
“The common grounds were whether the constitutional amendments were in violation of basic structure or do we have basic structure of the constitution and if we have then whether these amendments could be touched?”
These cases would be heard along with this full court only then we review that order on 18th Amendment and for this we have to give notice to parties. When their replies would be filed then it could be heard by full court so that matter does not go to preliminary. Sufficient time needed to be given to them.
The court observed that Maulvi Iqbal Haideer also filed the petition in this case in which he said that guidelines should be given for the establishment of military courts . The court said when he had filed the petition at that time the bill was still in the Parliament. Asma Jehangir requested that Iqbal Haider petition should be heard separately.
The bench directed that the attorney general and advocate generals to file the concise statements before the next date of hearing and adjourned the case till 24th February.
Apart from the petition, filed by the Lahore High Court Bar Association, identical petitions had been filed against 21st constitutional amendment in the constitution. Barrister Zafrullah Khan, Chairman Watan Party Pakistan, Engineer Jamil Ahmed Khan of Communist Party Pakistan, Munsif Malik of Pakistan Justice Party, Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan Bar Council and Sindh High Court Bar Association have also challenged the 21st Amendment.