The superior courts are facing a battle of perception in a polity that is being increasingly gobbled up by unsparing political polarisation.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is more comfortable approaching the Lahore High Court (LHC) rather than Islamabad High Court (IHC) to get relief in matters of political and sensitive nature.
Dozens of petitions have been filed in LHC against the caretaker government’s decisions. LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti has constituted a larger bench to hear those petitions.
LHC’s Justice Jawad Hassan is also taking up a PTI petition seeking direction for the concerned authorities for the announcement of a date for the elections of the Punjab Assembly.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led government is uncomfortable over the composition of benches as well as the fixation of cases.
Since the elevation of Justice Athar Minallah to the Supreme Court (SC), PTI supporters are criricising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq for not giving relief to party leaders in matters related to civil liberties.
Likewise, they are also irked over the fixation of the petition seeking the disqualification of PTI chief Imran Khan on account of concealing information regarding his alleged daughter.
The apex court is also facing a battle of perception. The composition of benches is always curicial in every high-profile case in the apex court.
Currently, the SC is divided on ideological lines as the PTI is comfortable before one section of judges while others are in the good books of the PML-N and their supporters.
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A similar scenario was witnessed during the case pertaining to the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker’s ruling, wherein the PML-N and its allies boycotted the SC proceedings on account of its refusal to form a full court to hear the matter.
However, it is witnessed that whenever the SC passes the order in favour of one political party, the rivals start a campaign against its judges.
The federal government is not in the mood to confront the chief justice of Pakistan on any issue. Even the federal government representatives – law minister and attorney general for Pakistan – endorsed the nomination of junior judges regarding their elevation to the SC.
It has also been learned that the government gave weightage to the opinion of one section of the judiciary regarding the appointment of AGP Shehbaz Elahi.
Senior lawyers believe that elections cannot be delayed without the endorsement of the superior judiciary. PTI leadership is hopeful that the SC will not allow them to delay the elections.
Senior lawyers believe that irrespective of the party, the courts should be consistent in giving relief in matters related to civil liberties.
The courts, they stress, should always strengthen parliamentary supremacy by showing restraint in the adjudication of political disputes.
Similarly, political leaders should also show maturity by not approaching the courts for political gains, they believe. They further think that all should sit together for evolving consensus on national issues.