On Monday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his displeasure over comments made by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial during a hearing of the Punjab election delay case. The CJP had referenced the jail terms “certain legislators” had endured, which the prime minister found concerning.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had requested legal action against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for postponing the election to October 8, and the top court had been considering the matter for the last week. The bench reserved its decision earlier today and is expected to be made public tomorrow.
The administration had previously voiced opposition to the three-judge panel, which is made up of CJP Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar, and wanted a full court. However, the supreme court rejected the motion.
During the case’s hearing last week, the CJP made a comment on how certain National Assembly speakers had received jail sentences and been labeled traitors. He stated that “when you visit the parliament today, you will see individuals who were held captive, incarcerated, and labeled traitors as recently as yesterday. As representatives of the people, they are now speaking over there and are respected.”
In response, the prime minister said it was a source of pleasure for him that he had been discharged by the high court on merit in fraudulent and contrived charges. He accused former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet of making fake cases against him and sought to implicate him in those created allegations.
He added that if the CJP had taken note of the PTI’s persecution of opposition leaders, saying, “It is our right under the Constitution to voice our opinions in the parliament.” The prime minister also claimed that several members of the bench are facing major corruption charges and asked what message was delivered to the entire country by keeping them on the bench.
“Everyone was subject to the law of equality. Double standards are ineffective,” added the prime minister. He said, “Imran’s lackey Shehzad Akbar” had published a fake report about him in London’s Daily Mail, but the writer of the piece afterward offered an apology.
The prime minister accused Khan of spending all his time throughout his leadership coming up with evil plans to imprison opposition figures. He stated that Khan had already tried to put him in prison three times and had already sent him there twice.
Even his bail, which the high court during the PTI administration had approved on the basis of merit, had been contested in the Supreme Court, he said. However, he was released on merit and is currently serving in the legislature.
The prime minister noted that all the coalition party leaders in the federal cabinet had voiced their lack of faith in the SC bench hearing the matter of the delayed elections during a meeting he presided over in Lahore last week. He agreed with the law minister’s criticism of the bench’s composition in charge of the case.
The law minister had earlier informed the House on the proceedings before the top court and reaffirmed that the coalition parties had already requested the court to set up a full court to hear the current case. Azam Nazeer Tarrar expressed his criticism in a statement, stating that Judge Ijazul Ahsan, another member of the bench, had stepped down. He asked the CJP to appoint a full court without two justices, as making such a controversial choice would go against the rules of justice.