PML-N Defends 18th Amendment All Clauses

The following report appeared in today’s The News International.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has decided to fully defend all clauses of the 18th Amendment, including the process for appointment of judges to higher courts, The News has learnt.

The PML-N held a meeting, chaired by its chief Nawaz Sharif, in Raiwind on Monday. The meeting participants apprised Nawaz of details of the Supreme Court full bench proceedings on the 18th Amendment case, in which the PML-N is a stakeholder for being a signatory to it.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has already been a respondent in a petition challenging the 18th Amendment, for being the chief executive of the province, along with the federal and provincial governments, and Barrister Shahid Hamid is hisongoing SC proceedings and decided to fully defend it and dispel an impression that the party was distancing itself from the 18th Amendment.

It was learnt that Barrister Shahid Hamid, who had already completed his arguments before the full bench of the SC, gave a briefing to Nawaz Sharif on the SC proceedings and arguments of petitioners.

Insiders claimed that the PML-N top leadership was of consensus opinion that they should not compromise the sovereignty of parliament, as envisioned in the Charter of Democracy. The meeting raised objections to three points presented by the petitioners before the full bench of the SC. The meeting decided that Shahid Hamid will be the counsel for Shahbaz Sharif as being the provincial chief executive and the PML-N president.

The PML-N leadership had reservations over the petitioners’ arguments that it was the prerogative of the constituent assembly to do legislation and the incumbent assembly was not the same. They were of the view that the Constitution did not distinguish between a constituent and a legislative assembly. The meeting had a consensus view that the incumbent assembly was fully authorised to do legislation. Moreover, the meeting observed that the 1973 assembly, which was the architect of the present Constitution, was also not a constituent assembly.

They also rejected the arguments that the new method for judges’ appointment was against the basic structure of the Constitution, as the petitioners believed that it was an attack on the independence of the judiciary. The meeting believed that the passage of 18th Amendment had not disturbed the basic structure and it was done in accordance with the Constitution.

Senator Pervaiz Rasheed told The News that the Punjab CM’s counsel Shahid Hamid briefed them on the 18th Amendment proceedings in the Supreme Court. Shahid Hamid apprised them about the constitutional amendments in the US, the UK, France and India and compared it with procedure for amendments in Pakistan. He claimed that the meeting neither took any decision nor instructed Shahid Hamid to represent the PML-N in the SC.

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