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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Judges' Reinstatement Sparks Pakistan Celebrations

ISLAMABAD, March 16: Celebrations started outside the official residence of Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Monday morning the moment news about his reinstatement spread. A number of people described the development as a step towards establishing people’s power, but others termed it the beginning of a real challenge for the judiciary.

Some of the challenges are tackling sensitive issues like appointment of judges after the imposition of emergency on Nov 3, 2007, and the judgment given by a seven-member bench headed by chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, overturning the Provisional Constitution Order issued by former president Pervez Musharraf.

Although all actions of the former president have been validated and reaffirmed by a 13-member larger bench of the Supreme Court in a review petition filed by Tikka Mohammad Iqbal, amendment to the Constitution through Article 270AAA to provide indemnity to Gen Musharraf for his Nov 3 actions and petitions seeking annulment of the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance also await adjudication.

Senator Wasim Sajjad has proposed the formation of a parliamentary committee to prepare a constitutional package for resolving all issues instead of putting the judiciary to test again.

Mr Sajjad said that for the first time a martial law had been averted through a popular movement. “By restoring the judges, the government has accepted that the Nov 3 actions are illegal.”

Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry spoken briefly to people who had collected outside his residence after the reinstatement announcement and said he still needed their support.

Politicians, civil society representatives, lawyers and students started gathering outside Justice Iftikhar’s residence in the Judges Colony as word spread that an important announcement was in the air.

“Allah Almighty has bestowed a great victory upon us,” the chief justice told an exulted crowd.

They also hoisted a Pakistani flag at the post inside the lawns of the residence. “Luck has smiled on Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry for the third time,” said one of the participants.

The first such occasion was when a 13-member bench of the Supreme Court restored Justice on July 20, 2007, while the second came when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on March 24 last year ordered the administration to free all judges detained by former president Pervez Musharraf soon after proclaiming the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.

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ISLAMABAD, March 16: As victors celebrated a judicial revolution that culminated in the restoration of deposed judges on Monday through people’s power, the way seemed cleared for one in parliament as well to empower the legislature.
Restoring to parliament its lost power is likely to be the next focus of political forces whose differences over a two-year-old judicial crisis finally took the matter to the streets.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced early on Monday the restoration of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and several other justices sacked by former president Pervez Musharraf rather than face the challenge of a lawyer-led long march, backed by several opposition parties, reaching Islamabad for an indefinite sit-in.
But a formal notification he promised in the pre-dawn broadcast had not been issued until late in the evening, although law ministry secretary Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan told Dawn that a summary for the purpose had been sent to the presidency.
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