PML-N to follow court’s verdict on CJ’s extension

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) would follow the court’s verdict on awarding 22 months extension to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, against his suspension by the then President Pervez Musharaf.

PML-N Secretary Information Senator Mushahidullah Khan, while talking to this correspondent, said that the PML-N has a lot of time to take a political stand on this issue as there are more than six months before the retirement of the chief justice of Pakistan. He said they have various mega issues to resolve and their premier has not been sworn in yet and will decide this issue on merit as the issue has not come under discussion yet.

To a question that if the chief justice would be given extension, the other judges who were suspended by the Musharaf regime might claim the same favour, his answer was “[The] PML-N believes in the supremacy of judiciary and would follow the court order on the issue.”

He dispelled the impression that there was any confusion or differences in the party over the issue. To a question that some party men suggested the leadership that to acknowledge the services of the chief justice for democracy, like his predecessor Yusuf Raza Gilani, the nominated Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif in his first speech in the National Assembly would announce extension to the chief justice of Pakistan against his suspension period during Musharaf regime. He strongly denied it and said Mian Nawaz Sharif would take the issue seriously and not to make headlines for media as the previous regime did.

Some members of the PML-N, on the condition of anonymity, said that they have suggested the leadership not to oppose the writ if it appears any court of law and let the issue resolve amicably. They were of the view that the CJ has become the symbol of justice in the country, and it was a fact during his suspension he could not act as chief justice, and the PML-N upcoming government would find out some way to accommodate him.

If the PML-N coming government would decide otherwise, it would not leave a good impression on the public, and it will give an impression that the PML-N was endorsing the dictator’s actions. The doves were of the view that to avoid any confrontation with the judiciary, the PML-N should take one step forward on this issue and Mian Nawaz Sharif should award extension to the chief justice against his suspension period.

However, the hawks strongly opposing it said it would open another Pandora’s box as the party had already big challenges to face, and the PML-N should not favour any extension as party chief Mian Nawaz Sharif has explained on many occasions that they will avoid an extension in future. They argued it might create resentment in the higher judiciary if only the chief justice would be awarded extension.

While the legal experts were of the view that without amending the Constitution extension could not be awarded to the chief justice through any executive order as under Article 179, the age limit of a judge is 65 years. They explained this issue could not be resolved through any executive order as the executive order by the then Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani for judges restoration was of a different nature.

It is worth mentioning here that on April 23, 2013, a constitutional petition was filed in the Supreme Court, Lahore Registry, with a prayer to extend tenure of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by one year and 10 months after his retirement that is due on December 11 this year. The Registrar Office of the Supreme Court raised objections to the petition and returned it to the mover Imtiaz Rasheed Qureshi, a member of the Save Judiciary Committee. (Courtesy: The News)