Senator Farhatullah Babar of the PPP took strong exception to the remarks of a SC judge made during hearing in a suo moto case yesterday that the BISP had made the people beggars and that the funds should have been allocated to WAPDA and asked judges to respect their limits reiterating also that a Constitution Court as envisaged in the Charter of Democracy be set up.
Remarks like these by the judges do not enhance the prestige and dignity of the courts, he said adding that the dignity of the courts could not be upheld through resort to contempt law alone. Dignity that is sought through coercive means and not through judgments and above board conduct is fragile.
He said that the poverty alleviation program was passed unanimously by the previous Parliament through an Act and the previous Senate also passed a unanimous Resolution in its support. A new Parliament and new government has come into being as a result of the May 11 elections which too in its wisdom has decided to not only continue the program but also increase the allocation for it.
For an honorable judge to imply that the Parliament has acted unwisely or imprudently is most unfortunate, he said.
It seemed that the restoration of honorable judges through a mass movement had led some to believe that they had some supra-constitutional mandate to fix everything in the country, be it the question of sugar prices, or overturn the Ruling of the Speaker or the chase a Prime Minister out of office or even question the patriotism and loyalty of overseas Pakistanis.
At the same time answer to pointed questions like whether there were dual national judges are avoided and questions about cases pending in high courts are refused to be answered on the ground that it was against its independence, he said.
“We appreciate the sense of purpose demonstrated by our honorable judges but there is a very fine distinction between sense of purpose and vanity,” he warned.
Judicial activism may be welcomed as something good and even necessary under some circumstances. However, we should guard against activism becoming an activity driven by media headlines and sound bytes.
He said that the appearance of some populism flowing from the success of the restoration movement was understandable but it would be dangerous if it were to become the grund norm of the Supreme Court.
Farhatullah Babar also took note of the near monolith with no or little dissent in the verdicts. He said that to err is human and every one including the Parliament and the judiciary made mistakes.
But when an honorable bench is seen to be marching as a unit it becomes difficult for it to see that it may have actually erred.
He concluded by reminding the PML-N government that the setting up of Constitution Court had been put on hold on their request and it was time that it is set up. The PPP has announced many times over that it will support such a move, he said.