Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court Chief
Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on Wednesday said a larger bench hearing
challenges to a constitutional reforms package would deliver a
verdict that will scuttle the possibility of unconstitutional
actions in future.
Chaudhry, who is heading a 17-judge bench that is
hearing petitions challenging the 18th constitutional
amendment, observed that the scope of judicial review should
be widened instead of being restricted.
The courts will give verdicts in a manner that no one
would dare to suspend fundamental rights, he said.
"A 17-member bench`s decision should be in such a
manner that no one can overrule it or to validate extra-
constitutional steps. We should think in broader manner as
many unconstitutional things had happened in the past," he
"We must ensure rule of law," Chaudhry said. The apex
court`s right to review constitutional amendments could not be
restricted, he added.
A batch of petitions have challenged various aspects
of the 18th constitutional amendment, including the procedure
for appointing members of the superior judiciary and the
renaming of the North West Frontier Province as Khyber-
Leaders of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party have
been maintaining that the parliament should have the final say
in constitutional amendments.
Hamid Khan, the counsel for the Supreme Court Bar
Association, told the apex court in his arguments that in
certain countries like Belgium, the parliament was dissolved
and the constitution stood abrogated while public opinion was
sought through a referendum for bringing about amendments.
The Chief Justice, while agreeing with Khan`s stance,
remarked that in certain countries, the matter was referred
for referendum and public could have their say while
parliament had no role in bringing about amendments.
"But in our country, the referendum was used only for
election of the president," he said.
Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, a member of the
bench, said the judiciary`s independence is linked with
"It is the man who matters and not the building of
bricks and material," he said.
He said a separate constitutional body is functioning
for appointment of civil servants but the appointment of
judges has been made subservient to a parliamentary committee.
"We have great respect for parliament. But where is
the idea of separation of judiciary from the executive," he
The hearing of the petitions was later adjourned till