CJP Bandial's Remarks Draw Scathing Rebuke From Senate

CJP Bandial's Remarks Draw Scathing Rebuke From Senate
The judiciary came under fire in the upper house of parliament on Friday over remarks given by judges on Thursday, which senators saw as ‘political’ statements or remarks which were clearly ‘against parliament and the legislative processes’.

The Constitution of Pakistan creates separate and distinct jurisdictions for both the legislative and judicial pillars of the state, but since the era of former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar, the courts have actively expanded their oversight into all aspects of state function.

Senators belonging to various political parties voiced their objections on Friday to observations and remarks made by incumbent chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial during a hearing on Thursday. The CJP said that parliament was "deliberately" being kept “systematically incomplete”.

Harkening to an oft-repeated political statement by former premier Imran Khan, CJP Bandial also remarked that elections were the “real answer” to all issues. The CJP further observed that the country’s "most honest prime minister was sent packing" by invoking the now-defunct article 58(2)b of the Constitution.

Many pundits have inferred that the CJP was referring to former premier Mohammad Khan Junejo, who served in the late 1980s under military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq.

The harshest criticism of the CJP’s remarks on the Senate floor came from Senator Irfanul Haque Siddiqui of the PMLN, who said the country’s top judge had no right to declare prime ministers - from Liaquat Ali Khan to Imran Khan - honest or dishonest. He alluded to the chief justice's remarks being a religious edict or 'fatwa' on the character of the country's past chief executives.


In his balanced yet critical elocution on the floor of the upper house, senator Siddiqui took strong exception to CJP Bandial’s remarks that the country only had one honest prime minister. The senator said that though the CJP did not name anyone, he may perhaps have been referring to former premier Junejo.

“Who gave him [CJP] the privilege to declare prime ministers from Liaquat Ali Khan to Imran Khan as dishonest?” senator Siddiqui asked. He also wondered whether it would be acceptable if someone said the country had just one honest chief justice.


Describing the CJP’s remarks as an attack on the prestige and sovereignty of the House, the senator said neither the judiciary nor the armed forces were representatives of the people. “The parliament comprises the chosen representatives of the public and it must not be ridiculed,” he said.

He also informed the house that the CJP made some remarks in a case that had no direct link with the elections. The CJP said the parliament was incomplete and was not being completed intentionally and the legislation being made by the parliament was controversial, according to the senator.

Describing the CJP’s remarks as “disturbing”, senator Irfan Siddiqui said the parliamentarians held the judiciary in high esteem. He however referred to the “judicial murder” of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the endorsement of four martial laws, the permission given to a uniformed general to contest elections, and removing a prime minister from public office for not receiving or declaring a salary due from his son.

Adding up this context of the court's chequered history, senator Siddiqui said: “We have bowed our heads before every decision of the judiciary, and will do so in future.”

The issue of observations made by lawmakers and judges about each other was raised by Senator Shahadat Awan, state minister for law and justice, during Question Hour after a member questioned the Supreme Court’s monitoring of the Gun and Country Club’s special audit.