SC Is Overreaching Its Mandate

Ayaz Amir’s latest column has been attacked because he had the guts and temerity to question whether the Supreme Court might be exceeding their bounds. But these attacks are unwarranted and misleading.

First, what did Ayaz say?

But now another danger looms. From one extreme – abetting dictatorship – the higher judiciary is swinging to another extreme – intruding more and more into the spheres of the executive and the legislature.

For their own good their lordships should restrain themselves on this count. Justice Chaudhry and the other judges who stood up to Musharraf have earned great public respect because of their stand on principles. It would be a pity if this respect were in any way to be eroded if the public at large and other institutions of government came to see their lordships as doing things they were not meant to do.

And:

Whether the price of petrol, diesel and kerosene oil is reasonable or a burden on the public, this is for the government and the elected representatives of the people to decide. The elected representatives of the people may not be doing their job. The government may be shirking its responsibility to look after the interests of the public. But these are separate issues. The SC’s business is to interpret the law and to stand guard over it. Petroleum pricing and taxation policy do not lie in its domain.

And:

…let no one say that this is a continuation of the Musharraf order. This is one cliche we should now transcend. Musharraf and all he stood for are things of the past. We now have to pick up the pieces and reinvent a new Pakistan. Things went drastically wrong for Pakistan when General Zia seized power in the summer of 1977. Dismantling the legacy of the last 32 years is not an uneasy undertaking. But if we are at all to ensure that our future is better than the missteps of the past, this task has to be taken in hand.

The first thing we need is stability and the preservation of the present democratic order. If there is to be reform and change and better governance these must come from within the crucible of this order, not through another march of 111 Brigade. Rocking the boat is a luxury we can ill-afford at this juncture.

Amir’s point is clear, the SC is over-reaching its mandate by attempting to rewrite legislation from the bench. Worse, they may not intend it, but they are in danger of being used as a partisan cat’s paw by the PML-N in a transparent ploy to discredit the PPP.

This is not the time for game playing gentlemen. Pakistan has only recently reestablished the democratic rule of the people and attempts to destabilize the situation by a run away branch of the government, aiding and abetting an opposition party could have the net effect of playing into the hands of those who would gladly put an end to it.

As Ayaz wrote:

We are at a delicate moment in our history, facing internal strife and extraordinary external pressures. The fight against extremist elements, schooled in the ideology of misguided jihad, are straining our utmost capabilities. The American presence in Afghanistan imposes its own compulsions. Such a situation demands a higher degree of leadership on the part of all those in a position of authority and responsibility. This includes the government, the political class, the armed forces and the higher judiciary.

 

 

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