Not one to take criticism of its judicial activism to heart, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered removal of Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb from a search committee constituted to find and appoint a suitable and eminent professional as chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra). A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, asked to exclude Ms. Aurangzeb’s name from the six member committee, observing that Ms Aurangzeb would not find time as she must be busy issuing statements.
It is no secret that since last year the Supreme Court has been very active and taking suo moto cases in domains that some argue are out of its reach. We have seen the SC take notice of a dozen of spheres, such as hospitals, water and food resources, that would be better suited for the government to handle. In return to criticism from certain political and legal factions that the SC is biased and going beyond its legal jurisdiction, the SC has responded with more suo moto cases.
This new decision is another glaring example of judicial overreach, and unlike the previous cases, does not even pretend to be in the ambit of fundamental rights or public interest. The order relates to an issue that is not even indirectly related to the suo moto - a suo moto that was taken out of pure discretion as it is. Furthermore it betrays a personal vendetta as opposed to any legal or procedural requirement. Due to her experience as Information Minister Marriyam Aurangzeb is qualified to be part of the PEMRA search committee and statements of her criticism of the court judgement in no way affects her ability to perform her duty. It is ironic that the court removed Ms. Aurangzeb for bias, but this move of the court was a biased one itself, since her removal is her punishment for her continued stance against the SC’s latest judgments.
To punish an Information Minister without trial or proper jurisdiction is highly unprecedented, and goes too far. We understand that CJP Saqib Nisar has good intentions in determining the best search committee, but procedure should not be martyred to achieve the ends. We certainly do not want the Court to be the tool through which we punish politicians for no reason other than their stances and statements.