Islamabad: Pakistan`s Chief Justice has withdrawn from a case relating to the appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges after the declaration of the November 2007 emergency. He has appointed a five-member bench for hearing the case.
"Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has separated himself from the bench that will hear the unconditional apology and contempt of court cases of PCO (Provisional Constitution Order) judges, including (former chief justice) Abdul Hameed Dogar and that of former attorney general Latif Khan Khosa," Geo TV reported on Friday.
"Some public circles had openly suggested that the chief justice should not graciously head the bench hearing these cases," it added.
Then president Pervez Musharraf had promulgated the PCO along with the emergency November 3, 2007 requiring all Supreme Court and high court judges to take a fresh oath if they wanted to continue in office. Chaudhry and the entire Supreme Court bench, as also some 60 high court judges, had ignored the diktat and were sacked. They were replaced by judges who agreed to take oath under the PCO. Dogar had succeeded Chaudhry.
After the sacked judges were reinstated in March, the Supreme Court had taken up a petition urging it to declare the emergency as unconstitutional. The court did just that on July 31 and for good measure, asked the PCO judges to tender an unconditional apology or face contempt of court proceedings. It also said that Dogar`s appointment was unconstitutional.
Earlier this week, Dogar had sought a review of the July 31 verdict and also questioned Chaudhry`s continuance in office.
"Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was restored to the present top judicial position through an executive order and (this is), therefore, illegal," he said.
According to Dogar, the word "restoration" was alien to the Constitution. He also questioned the reinstatement of other Supreme Court judges through an executive order.
Along with his petition seeking a review of the July 31 judgment, he also filed a reply to the contempt notice issued to him by the Supreme Court.
Dogar described the issue of the contempt notice as discriminatory and sought its immediate recall for being against the much talked about comity of judges.
"If taking oath by me is disobedience and the restraining order remained binding and operative, all civil and military authorities and judges who took oath under him but did not act upon the order should also have been issued similar notices," he maintained.
"One set of judges would issue notices to another group of judges and whenever one group has a majority, they will prosecute and persecute their peers," Dogar added.