Reforms package: Pak court rejects objections against bench

The bench will hear petitions against 18th constitutional amendment.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Monday rejected the government`s objections against a bench set up to hear petitions challenging a landmark constitutional reforms package that stripped President Asif Ali Zardari of his powers.

A 17-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry initially reserved its verdict after hearing objections against the bench constituted to hear a batch of 15 petitions against the 18th constitutional amendment.

However, later in the day, it rejected the objections.

The petitions have challenged various provisions of the constitutional amendment package, including a new procedure to appoint members of the superior judiciary and the renaming of North West Frontier Province as Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa.

The government objected to the non-inclusion of a judge in the bench as well as the Chief Justice`s presence on it.

Reading out a detailed ruling, Chief Justice Chaudhry said all objections of the government regarding the bench had been set aside as they were not in consonance with the Constitution and the law.

The court also issued a show cause notice to government lawyer Abdul Basit for committing professional misconduct and for making a statement that falsely involved Salman Farooqi, General Secretary to the President, in the case.

The notice said Basit should "show cause why he should not be suspended from practice (or) removed from the roll of advocates/senior advocates of this court".

Replying to a query from the bench, Basit had replied that the objections to the bench had been raised on the instructions of the government.

Basit said he had not received written instructions from the President`s House to raise such issues. He said six advocates engaged by the government had assembled in the Law Minister`s office and it was decided to raise the objections.

However, Secretary General Salman Farooqi sent a message to the Supreme Court`s Registrar saying he had no role in the objections raised by Basit.

Farooqi also sent a written statement to court in this regard. Basit then acknowledged he had made a mistake and should be punished by the court. He also asked to be heard afresh.

The court said he would be given a chance when the proceedings resumed.


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