Pakistan’s SC has gone overboard: ex-Indian SC judge

Markandey Katju

NEW DELHI – Hindu Press Council of India Chairman Justice and former judge of the Indian Supreme Court, Markandey Katju, on Thursday said the Pakistani Supreme Court had no right to dismiss a prime minister or overrule the constitutional immunity given to the president.

In an opinion piece published in The Hindu, Katju said, “I regret to say that the Pakistani Supreme Court, particularly its chief justice, has been showing utter lack of restraint. This is not expected of superior courts. In fact the court and its chief justice have been playing to the galleries for long. It has clearly gone overboard and flouted all canons of constitutional jurisprudence”. |He wrote that Section 248(2) of the Pakistani constitution stated: “No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the president or governor in any court during his term of office.”

The language of the above provision is clear, and it is a settled principle of interpretation that when the language of a provision is clear the court should not twist or amend its language in the garb of interpretation, but read it as it is, he said. “I therefore fail to understand how proceedings on corruption charges (which are clearly of a criminal nature) can be instituted or continued against the Pakistani president”, Katju said. Moreover, “how can the court remove a prime minister? This is unheard of in a democracy. The prime minister holds office as long he has the confidence of parliament, not the confidence of the Supreme Court”.

Katju said the constitution established a delicate balance of power, and each of the three organs of the state – the legislature, the executive and the judiciary – must respect each other and not encroach into each other’s domain, otherwise the system could not function. “It seems to me that the Pakistani Supreme Court has lost its balance and gone berserk. If it does not now come to its senses I am afraid the day is not far off when the constitution will collapse, and the blame will squarely lie with the court, and particularly its chief justice,” the former Indian SC judge added.-Pakistantoday