June 15, 2008

Nawaz hardens stand on PCO judges

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 1:23 am
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JUNE 15, 2008



Updated at  
Sunday, June 15, 2008

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: The PML-N Quaid, Nawaz Sharif, buoyed by the success of the long march, has hardened his stand on the induction of the PCO judges and has categorically stated that he would not approve the budget proposal, which increases the strength of the Supreme Court from 16 to 29 judges.

Talking to The News here on Saturday, Nawaz Sharif, who holds an unambiguous stance on the president’s removal and the reinstatement of the November 2 judiciary and has thereby boosted his popular standing, said he would not budge an inch on his stance of not accepting the PCO judges.

He said it would not be acceptable to him to amend the law to increase the number of the Supreme Court judges if it was meant to accommodate the PCO judges as regular judges.

He wondered how could those, who had taken oath under the PCO of General Musharraf, be treated in the same manner as those who had refused to show allegiance to the military dictator.

Nawaz said he did not know if the proposal to increase the number of the Supreme Court judges from 16 to 29 was included in the budget speech in consultation with the PML-N.

He, however, categorically said that he did not approve any such proposal. In its budget proposals, presented before the National Assembly on June 11, the PPP-led government opted for a controversial way to deal with the judges’ restoration issue by using the Finance Bill, which does not need the approval of the upper house.

Finance Minister Naveed Qamar, in his budget speech, announced the proposal to increase the number of vacancies of the Supreme Court judges from the existing 16 to 29.

The proposal was unique for the reason that one of the most controversial political-cum-legal options was made part of the Finance Bill.

Although, some senior leaders of the PML-N are said to have agreed to this proposal’s inclusion in the Finance Bill, the party’s top leadership remains determined that the PCO judges do not deserve to be regularised by parliament. It was the same controversy that led to the resignation of the PML-N ministers from the cabinet. The PML-N initially resisted the idea but then in the Dubai dialogue with the PPP several weeks back, the party agreed to accommodate the PCO judges as ad hoc judges of the Supreme Court for which there was no need to amend the law as no increase in the vacancies was needed.

The PPP, however, wants the PCO judges retained as regular judges once the deposed judges are restored. After the failure of the PPP-PML-N dialogue and following the resignation of the PML-N ministers, the PPP came up with its constitutional package, which recommended the restoration of the deposed judges through a constitutional amendment and by giving indemnity to Musharraf’s Nov 3 unconstitutional steps. Now it is unclear if the PPP would reinstate the judges after the passage of the Finance Bill, containing the proposal to increase the strength of the judges, through an executive-order-cum resolution or it would still pursue the controversial constitutional amendment package to get the deposed judges restored.


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