Capital suggestion - Dr Farrukh Saleem - Sunday, April 17, 2011

To begin with, this brief timeline of relevant events:

August 25, 1999: Nawaz Sharif enacts Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance. January 19, 2000: Nawaz Sharif formally charged with kidnapping, attempted murder, hijacking and terrorism. April 6, 2000: Anti Terrorism Court sentences Nawaz Sharif to life imprisonment. October 10, 2000: Sindh High Court upholds the life sentence awarded to Nawaz Sharif. April 28, 2009: Nawaz Sharif, after the passage of more than eight years, challenges his conviction in the Supreme Court. July 17: Supreme Court acquits Nawaz Sharif.

Question: Would the Supreme Court do away with time limits in cases of lesser mortals?

Here’s another timeline:

April 14, 2007: The then non-functional CJP says: “Separation of powers is the best course for ensuring good governance and for the smooth sailing of different state organs in a civilised society.” September 24, 2010: The PM telephones Ch Nisar, the leader of the opposition, for consultations in regards to the appointment of chairman NAB. October 8, 2010: The president issues a notification appointing “Mr Justice (Retd) Syed Deedar Hussain Shah as chairman, NAB in terms of Section 6(b)(i) of NAB Ordinance, 1999, with immediate effect.” October 16: Ch Nisar challenges the appointment in the Supreme Court. March 10, 2011: Supreme Court’s short order invalidates the appointment. March 22: The Supreme Court in its detailed verdict concludes that the appointment of Justice (r) Deedar Hussain Shah as NAB chairman by President Asif Ali Zardari ... is ultra vires and against the spirit of section 6(b)(i).....adding that “We entertain no manner of doubt that anybody interested in making an honest and good appointment to the office of NAB chairman would not feel shy of consulting the Chief Justice of Pakistan...” March 29: President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) criticises the apex court judgment in the Deedar Hussain Shah case, saying the suggestion made in it for consultation with the Chief Justice of Pakistan for the appointment of the National Accountability Bureau chairman amounts to legislation by the bench. April 9: The CJP tells trainee officers of the National School of Public Policy – “The Constitution is supreme and all organs have to remain within their allotted sphere. The exclusive domain of legislature is to make law.”

The law is: Section 6(b)(i) – “There shall be a chairman NAB to be appointed by the president in consultation with the leader of the house and the ‘leader of the opposition.....” Clearly, CJP is not a statutory consultee. Is SC adjudicating or has now begun making laws? Isn’t SC venturing into the exclusive domain of the legislature?

Please consider the following timeline: March 31, 2006: The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCOP) accepts $362 million as the price for a 75 percent strategic stake in Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). June 23: The Supreme Court declares the Letter of Acceptance and Share Purchase Agreement as void and of no legal effect. 2008: PSM incurs a loss of Rs26.5 billion. 2009: PSM incurs a loss of Rs11 billion. 2010: Accumulated losses stand at Rs36 billion.

Had PSM been privatised in 2006 the public exchequer would have been richer by $362 million plus Rs36 billion.

Here’s the timeline on sugar:

August 13, 2009: CJ Lahore High Court takes a suo moto notice of the price of sugar in the open market. September 3: LHC fixes the retail price at Rs40 per kg. January 27, 2010: Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, former chief justice of Pakistan, tells the media that “fixing of the sugar price is not the Supreme Court’s prerogative and the crisis that followed of the apex court’s judgment on the sugar pricing issue was a result of the SC’s involvement in something that was not its concern.”

Trias politica, separation of powers is the key to rule of law. But then again someone wise once said, “A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.”

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email:

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