While far more attention has been paid to the numerous constitutional challenges to the recent 21st Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, the Supreme Court also has before it long-dormant challenges to the 18th Amendment. Here is an extract from a Nation article on the Court's April 16 hearing that sheds light on that aspect of the current cases (and the sad note on which the hearing concluded):
Later, the court heard petitions against the 18th Amendment. The court was informed Akram Sheikh, counsel for the SHCBA [Sindh High Court Bar Association], is on general adjournment. Ikram Chaudhry, representing the Justice Party, sought time, saying yesterday (Wednesday) a young man in the family was murdered therefore he could not prepare his case. He said that he is still interested in pressing his petition.
Justice Jawwad [S. Khawaja] said the basic question in all the petitions is almost the same, adding the judgment on the 18th Amendment would be a precedent, therefore all the parties should give importance to this case.
Barrister Zafarullah Khan, appearing on behalf of the Wattan Party, said that 104 amendments were made in 60 articles of the Constitution through 18th Amendment and nine months were spent to prepare it, while millions of rupees were spent. He said that on 30-9-2010 an interim order was passed on the 18th Amendment and now after five years the apex court again took up this case.
He said the Supreme Court passed judgment on Article 175A and through the 19th Amendment strengthened its position as there are now six judges, including Chief Justice of Pakistan. Justice Nasir [-ul-Mulk], Justice Khawaja and Justice [Mian] Saqib [Nisar] inquired from him whether he was challenging the 19th Amendment or the order of January 26, 2011. Barrister Zafarullah failed to respond to the court’s query.
As the Full Court was hearing the arguments of Zafarullah one of the SC staff informed the chief justice that Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry’s wife had suffered heart attack. The chief justice therefore adjourned the hearing till April 22. Later, it was reported in the media that Justice Ijaz’ wife had expired.