PTI violation of May 25 verdict irks SC

The Supreme Court majority judges, who are showing great restraint to issue a contempt notice to former premier Imran Khan, are “disappointed” with the PTI leadership for breaching the court's trust by violating its May 25, 2022 order, wherein the party’s “Azadi March” was restricted from reaching Islamabad’s D-Chowk.

Even during the hearing of the presidential reference on Wednesday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said the judges were “deeply disturbed” that the court's trust was breached.

Senior lawyers, who witnessed the court proceedings, said the PTI leadership had “embarrassed” the judges, who were so generous and protected the party's activists from coercive actions taken by the PML-N-led federal and Punjab governments on May 25.

CJP Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar are already facing criticism by anti-PTI forces for having a “soft corner” for the party.

Although three of these senior SC judges had set aside then National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Suri’s ruling wherein the no-confidence resolution against Imran was overturned, they passed several judicial orders giving relief to the PTI.

Their ruling on the interpretation and scope of Article 63 (A) of the Constitution benefitted the PTI in the province of Punjab.

Similarly, these judges had also set aside then Punjab Assembly deputy speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari’s ruling wherein 10 PML-Q MPAs' votes were discarded. Following that order, PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi became the chief minister of the province.

Even though major political parties, which are part of the incumbent government, had requested the SC to form a full court to hear this matter, their plea was rejected by these three senior judges.

Similarly, these judges were also part of a larger bench, which initiated suo motu proceedings on the alleged executive interference in the affairs of prosecution and investigation in high-profile cases against top government functionaries.

When the PTI leaders moved constitutional petitions on several issues in the apex court, these judges were part of every bench that heard these matters.

It was also witnessed that except for the CJP, other members of the larger bench remained silent during the hearing on Wednesday.

Only Justice Ahsan remarked once that the court’s May 25 order was “misused”.

There could be many reasons why they were silent during almost 90 minutes of the hearing.

Justice Yahya Afridi has already taken the position that contempt proceedings should be initiated against Imran. Therefore, instead of making any observations, he just kept smiling during the hearing.

Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi did not utter a word during the hearing.

During the previous hearing, Justice Naqvi had questioned the maintainability of the government's contempt petition in this matter.

Interestingly, the CJP did not dictate any order in the courtroom on Wednesday.

A lawyer said that it seemed that these four judges might have a different approach toward this matter.

Despite four hearings, the submission of agencies’ reports, and one judge's dissenting note, the majority are showing great restraint as they have again asked the PTI chief to submit a detailed reply by Saturday.

Salman Aslam Butt, who is a close aide of top government functionaries, was witnessing the court proceedings.

The government is keen to put pressure on Imran to restrict his long march toward the federal capital.

It is more confident after the elevation of junior judges to the apex court with the support of the law minister and attorney general – who are the government representatives in the Judicial Commission of Pakistan.

It was not an easy decision by the government representatives to vote in favour of CJP Bandial’s nominees. Currently, the government is facing criticism not only from the bars but also from one section of the bench.

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