ISLAMABAD - The court could strike down any legislation found in contravention of the fundamental rights of the citizens enshrined in the Constitution, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said on Tuesday during the hearing of the media commission case, referring to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s speech in the parliament.

Without citing the prime minister’s speech he made in the National Assembly Monday, the chief justice said, “It was conveyed the other day that the court cannot intervene in the process of legislation. I reiterate in front of media persons that the parliament is supreme, but above it is the constitution which has prescribed limits,” Justice Saqib said, heading a three-member bench that heard the media commission case in Courtroom No-1 jam-packed with media persons.

PM Abbasi had called for an ultimate debate in the parliament as to who had the final say in legislation. The premier had stated: “I was not willing to say this, but it has become necessary. The elected representatives of the 207 million people are being dubbed as a thief, robber and mafia. Sometimes threats are being hurled that we (judges) will nullify the legislation that you [parliamentarians] have passed.”

The chief justice said the court had nothing to do with the business of the parliament and would not transgress its authority unconstitutionally. “We will not transgress our authority unless any provision of the constitution relating to fundamental rights of the citizens is violated,” the chief justice asserted.

He said the court observations in the Election Act proceedings were not against any person, but they were misreported in the media and caused misconception. He said he was not bound to give an explanation, but during interaction with the parties the questions propped up on a particular issue.

The CJP held the laws passed by the parliament were subject to judicial review under the constitution. “Any legislation having a conflict with the constitution has no validity in the eye of the law,” he made it clear.

The chief justice said the question and the issue should not be confused or misinterpreted by anyone as there was no intention of maligning anyone or causing disrespect in any manner.

“And if such a question is raised in this regard, would it be considered as maligning someone?” the CJP questioned. He said if this was so, they would not sit silently”.

The petitioner, Hamid Mir, said the chief justice had not named anyone; some people were bent upon making it an issue and the chief justice should not take this into account.

“We are neither giving any explanation nor are we bound to do so. We are not scared of anyone, but the power given to us by Allah and the constitution will be used with full authority,” the chief justice remarked.

The bench granted 10-day time to the federal information secretary to file a concise statement about the steps taken to make the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority an independent entity.

The court also directed BOL TV Chief Executive Shoaib Sheikh to submit a reply relating to payment of outstanding salaries of his ex-employees within a week.

Similarly, the court also issued notices to 13 media owners to submit details regarding the payment of salaries to their employees in 10 days. The chief justice said they had taken notice of the application of the Press Association of the Supreme Court.

Parliament is supreme but not above Constitution: CJP