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`New contempt law can lead to anarchy in Pakistan`

Last Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2012 - 23:36

Lahore: The new contempt law that grants immunity to public functionaries against contempt of court can result in creating anxiety among the people, eventually leading to anarchy, former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir has said.

Expressing her reservation over certain provisions in the new contempt law, Jahangir criticised the immunity granted to holders of public office under the new law, reports The Express Tribune.

She said these provisions in the new contempt law were in violation of Article 19-A of the Constitution that protected the right to the access to information. She added that according to the new law, a contempt notice could not be issued unless a final judgment in the original case was issued. This, she said, led to curtailing the rights of the judiciary.

"During this interim period, contempt of court becomes easier," she added.

However, at the same time Jahangir also suggested that the courts should exercise restraint in issuing contempt notices.

"Even if a person stares (at the judge), the court issues him a contempt notice," she said.

She argued that such frequent issuance of notices could leave people scared to criticise the courts and discourage the people from pointing out things "deserving criticism".

She said issuing contempt notices was a tool for administration of justice and should be used only when actually required.

"Parliament has the right to make laws and the judiciary can intervene if these laws are in conflict with the provision of basic rights of a citizen," she said.

Jahangir said it was not about which institution was supreme, but about Parliament and the judiciary respecting each other.


First Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012 - 17:34

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