Thursday, January 29, 2015

More details on 21st Amendment hearing before Pakistan Supreme Court

The Express Tribune has published additional details about the hearing earlier this week in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the challenge to the 21st Amendment and ancillary legislation authorizing new military courts. In addition to the federal attorney general, the four provinces and capital territory will also have to respond to the petition filed by the Lahore High Court Bar Association. Interestingly, Hamid Khan, counsel for the association, was asked about his own role in connection with framing the objected-to legislation. He replied that he was not a member of Parliament and merely participated in a group asked to offer suggestions. The court did not refer the case to a larger bench; perhaps that will occur once the various government responses have been received. Excerpts from the Express Tribune article:
During the hearing, LHCBA’s counsel Hamid Khan used articles 2A, 8, 9 and 175(3) [of the Constitution] to build his case against the 21st amendment.
Citing article 175(3) – which separates the judiciary from the executive – Khan argued that the new amendment undermined both the independence of the judiciary and the trichotomy of power. He added that the fresh legislation also infringed upon article 8 which declares laws inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights to be void. The lawyer also contended that the amendment was passed without any debate in Parliament.
A member of the bench, Justice Mushir Alam, however, asked Khan how he would respond if article 239, which prevents any constitutional amendment from being challenged in any court of law, is invoked. The LHCBA counsel replied that he would argue on that point later on.
The News International notes here that the court denied an oral application for a stay of implementation of the new legislation. 

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