Supreme Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Thursday observed that the Supreme Court would not be influenced by criticism when there were still people who followed the constitution.
CJ Bandial’s remarks came during the hearing of the presidential reference that seeks the interpretation of Article 63-A of the constitution.
The chief justice stated that the SC represented the constitution’s supremacy.
“The courts are open for critics as the court’s job is to do justice with everyone,” Justice Bandial said. He added that the court would continue to perform its functions in spite of the criticism it was subjected to.
Presenting arguments in the court, Senator Raza Rabbani said those who held offices under the constitution had attacked and ran campaigns against constitutional institutions. He further said that malevolent criticism of democratic institutions thrusted the country towards fascism.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, another member of the bench hearing the presidential reference, questioned whether disloyalty to a political party could be considered as dishonesty and could lead to disqualification.
He raised the questions during the hearing of a presidential reference seeking the SC’s explanation of Article 63-A of the constitution.
A five-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and consisting of Justice Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, heard the reference.
“Is disloyalty not dishonesty?” Justice Ahsan asked Pakistan People’s Party counsel Farook H. Naek who presented his arguments today. He further questioned if a lawmaker could be disqualified over “dishonesty”.
Naek said that “disloyalty” was a strong word, elaborating that it was not mentioned in the article.
The PPP’s counsel recalled that Article 58-2(B) was abrogated in 1997 through the 13th Amendment. However, it was reinstated by military dictator Pervez Musharraf in 2002. The 18th Amendment of the Constitution once again removed the article in 2018, he said.
Naek added that Article 63-A was included in the constitution via the 14th Amendment.
Naek further stated that lawmakers had not determined the length of disqualification for defecting lawmakers under Article 63-A.