Pakistan chief justice urges MPs to defy Musharraf

February 21st, 2008 - 6:46 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Feb 21 (IANS) Pakistan’s sacked chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has appealed to the newly elected parliamentarians not to endorse the “illegal” steps taken by President Pervez Musharraf after he imposed emergency Nov 3. “If these steps by an individual are endorsed by parliament, it will strengthen an individual and even a police officer will get decision of his choice from judges,” he said in a telephonic address to the Sindh High Court Bar Association Thursday.

Chaudhry and all other judges of the Supreme and high courts were dismissed through a presidential order Nov 3 last year when Musharraf imposed emergency, suspending the constitution and human rights in the country.

Later only those judges of the superior courts were allowed to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) who showed allegiance to President Musharraf. Since then Chaudhry and six other judges have been under house arrest.

There were rumours Wednesday that Chaudhry and others were released after opposition parties defeated the candidates and parties backed by Musharraf but Chaudhry said he was still under arrest.

He said by authorizing the president to amend the constitution and dissolve assemblies, the previous parliament had, in fact, weakened the institutions.

He said the sacked judges can be restored by just an administrative order and no constitutional amendments were required for it.

After winning a sizeable number of seats in parliament, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been saying that his first priority is to restore the sacked judges but Musharraf in an interview said that under the law this cannot be done.

“The judges can be restored by just an administrative order just like they were sacked,” said Justice Chaudhry.

Lawyers have announced a march to the capital if the sacked judges were not restored before March 9 by the new administration.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that emerged as the single largest party in Monday’s elections has said it wants to move further by “streamlining” the judicial system.

“Restoration of judges in not a solution to problems, but it can be one point,” said Asif Ali Zardari, who heads PPP after assassination of his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a gun and bomb attack Dec 27.

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