LAHORE - The order by which a three-judge Supreme Court bench dismissed the petition of Dr Tahirul Qadri on Wednesday was, in fact, a ‘justice plus’ as in addition to getting his ‘grievance redressed’ the petitioner was also given ‘extra relief’ when told that his conduct calls for action under the Contempt of Court Law but the bench would exercise restraint.

The justice was not only done but was seen to be done.

The questions repeatedly asked by the court about the petitioner’s locus standi, especially because of his dual nationality, the doubts expressed about his loyalty to the state of Pakistan and the timing of filing the petition had left no doubts about the kind of order the petitioner could expect at the end of the proceedings.

The bench did not let the petitioner offer any arguments about the merit of the case. In fact, the issue of his dual nationality did not let the case proceed further.

Perhaps, the fate of the petition would have been different if it had come from someone who was not a dual national. Yes, in our system it is more important who knocks at the doors of the court, not what issue has been raised.

It would have been better if the court had dismissed the petition on the basis of merit. The petitioner should have been afforded full opportunity to explain his point of view. Heavens would not have fallen if the bench had taken a few more days to decide the matter. This way, people would have seen that the petitioner had failed to convince the court why the reconstitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan was necessary.

Needless to point out that even the PML-Q, which is a coalition partner with the PPP, and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf have been expressing reservations about the ECP with its existing composition. However, they did not approach the court for reasons best known to them.

The bench, ostensibly, passed its dismissal order in anger, a state of mind in which even the right decisions lose their credibility.

Dr Qadri was not wrong in his assertions that the honourable incumbent chief justice had taken the oath under the much reviled Provisional Constitution Order of Gen Musharraf, and that if judge’s loyalty remained undivided in spite of making an aberration from the Constitution, the faithfulness of a dual national could also remain unaffected.

This was a ‘counterpunch’ from the petitioner who had to face embarrassment for three consecutive days.

Though the petitioner did not point it out, it was also a fact that Honourable Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was part of the bench which had validated the October 12, 1999 military takeover by Gen Musharraf. Many judges of the ‘independent judiciary’ were still there when Gen Musharraf worked both as president and the army chief.

The judges should be patient enough to hear things against them. They should not lose temper, no matter how serious remarks are made against them, provided they are well-founded.

Many say that the timing of the petition raised many doubts about the intentions of Dr Qadri. It is being alleged that the petitioner wanted to delay the electoral process, something unacceptable to political parties.

These doubts are unfounded. When Dr Qadri had addressed a big public meeting at the Minar-i-Pakistan on December 23, he had made three statements on oath. He said he doesn’t want to get the elections delayed; doesn’t get financial assistance from any country or agency and has no foreign agenda to implement.

“May Allah deprive me of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s intercession if I make a misstatement”, he said.

After such categorical declarations, is there any justification left for anyone to doubt the petitioner’s intentions, especially if he is a Muslim.

The court should have given importance to these statements.

Dr Qadri had no bad intentions about any institution. He just wants free and fair elections under the supervision of an impartial polls body.

He had also sought the appointment of a caretaker prime minister who is acceptable to all parties. Since the Constitution gives this power only to the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, he wanted the judiciary and the army to have a say in the induction of such a premier.

He repeatedly said that if the caretaker prime minister is a nominee of the prime minister and the opposition leader, the two major political parties would continue to alternate each other in power and no other party would get a chance to come forward.

Before his petition was taken up, Dr Qadri had said in an interview that he would accept the SC verdict, even if it was against him.

If he now says that the court’s decision was ‘political’, not constitutional, it was because he was piqued by the way he was treated by the country’s top court.