Editorial - Judiciary and parliament - Friday, April 22, 2011

The role of the eight member parliamentary committee which under the 18th Amendment is to review the appointment of judges became clearer as a four-member Supreme Court bench dismissed the federation’s review petition against the court order setting aside a recommendation by the committee rejecting a one-year extension in the terms of six additional judges of the Sindh and Lahore high courts. The verdict should settle the issue of which institution holds supremacy in the matter. The problems inherent in the grant of powers to a committee of parliamentarians to overview decisions made by the judicial commission had already been pointed out by legal experts. The provision of course posed a threat of eroding judicial independence – and the SC judges, by rejecting the plea, have made it clear they will not allow this to happen. Senior lawyers have welcomed the move. While the matter has given rise to controversy for months, it seems that the need to safeguard judicial independence is essential in our particular circumstances. The failure to do so over the years has led to all kinds of problems and essentially resulted in a judiciary subservient to the executive. Even those of us not well-versed in history have a good idea of the disasters this caused and the unfortunate traditions it set in place. The apex court is quite obviously determined to eradicate these and work towards a future where the role laid down for each institution within the Constitution is fully protected.

The decision also brings into question what the role of the parliamentary committee is to be. Experts attempting to defend its existence have argued that a body able to act only as a rubber stamp serves no purpose. There can be no real argument with this. The logical thing to do under the circumstances would be to scrap the body, or at the very least to clearly re-define its powers, leaving no doubt that the judiciary is fully empowered to take decisions in matters that have an impact on its working without any interference from the outside. It has already made it quite clear that it intends to do so, and has reasserted this intention through its latest verdict. It is essential that it be accepted with good grace and the role of the judiciary as a fully independent body established once and for all. Such a step could play a crucial role in determining the future of our country and the manner in which events within it unfold.

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=43020&Cat=8

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