Lahore: The confrontation between the ruling Pakistan People`s Party and the judiciary has taken a new turn following a High Court Chief Justice`s advice to the PPP to quit the coalition in Punjab province if it has objections to the appointment of a legal official.
Senior PPP leaders and prominent lawyers have taken exception to Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Mohammad Sharif`s comments and said they will approach the Supreme Judicial Council to take action against him.
Addressing the Hafizabad Bar Association yesterday, Sharif advised the PPP to quit the PML-N-led coalition in Punjab if it has objections to the appointment of the new provincial Prosecution Secretary Rana Maqbool.
The PPP has reportedly objected to former police official Maqbool`s appointment to the post as he has been accused of torturing President Asif Ali Zardari when he was imprisoned in 1995.
Senior PPP leader Raja Riaz, also a minister in the Punjab government, described Chief Justice Sharif as a "PML-N spokesman" and asked him to resign to contest polls on a PML-N ticket.
"We will foil designs of the Sharif courts against democracy. We are going to file a reference in the Supreme Judicial Council against Khwaja Sharif for acting as a PML-N spokesman," Riaz said.
"Is a Chief Justice authorised to represent a proclaimed offender and can he advise a major political party to quit the government?" he said.
The PPP has defeated military dictatorships in the past and is capable of fighting against any "judicial dictatorship”, he added.
Speaking in the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament, PPP lawmaker and spokesperson Fauzia Wahab said Chief Justice Sharif`s "extremely objectionable political statement" was unprecedented.
She asked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to take suo moto notice of the matter. Former Supreme Court Bar Association president and dissident PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan too criticised Chief Justice Sharif for making a "political statement".
He said: "A judge should resign from office if he wants to do politics," Ahsan said, judges should not make such statements as they bring a "bad name to the judiciary".
He added: "Judges should refrain from doing so as they are supposed to speak only through their judgements.”
Rights activist and prominent advocate Hina Jilani described Chief Justice Sharif`s statement as "most inappropriate”.
She said: "Such a comment must not come from any member of the independent judiciary. Such statements are bringing a bad name to the judiciary."