ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) turned down two identical petitions of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) challenging the vires of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah, on Friday, heard the petitions moved by both the political parties and dismissed the same after hearing the arguments of both the counsels.

The IHC written verdict stated that the political parties represent the people and they are expected to resolve their disputes in the Parliament, rather unnecessarily involving the judicial branch of the State.

He noted, “It is their joint and several obligation to demonstrably show obedience to the Constitution without inviting interference by the constitutional Court. Such interference weakens the Parliament besides having profound consequences for the judicial branch itself.

The intervention by courts in matters that can otherwise be resolved by political parties by resorting to democratic principles and processes, undermines the authority of the Parliament.”

The chief justice also said that the matter raised by both the petitioner political parties has already been challenged by several important stakeholders by invoking the constitutional jurisdiction of the Court.

The political parties have an important role under Article 89 of the Constitution and an effective remedy has been provided thereunder.

The Court maintained that it is not inclined to exercise its extraordinary discretionary jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution, therefore their petitions. However, the CJ noted, “This order shall not in any manner prejudice the proceedings pending before the Court in WPNo216 of 2021, titled ‘Kanwal Shauzab vs. Learned Justice of Peace, etc”, and other connected petitions.”

The court also appointed Mansoor Awan advocate as an amicus curiae to assist the Court in the pending constitutional petitions, inter alia, regarding the nature and scope of the power conferred under Article 89 to promulgate an Ordinance and the jurisdictional pre conditions required to be met in order to justify circumventing the process of law making through Parliament and avoiding playing fraud upon the Constitution.

The PML-N and the PPP had invoked the jurisdiction of the Court under Article 199 of the Constitution and challenged the vires of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022.

The IHC bench noted that both the political parties have a significant representation in the Parliament. It stated that the impugned Ordinance has been promulgated by the President in exercise of powers conferred under Article 89 of the Constitution, while a plain reading of Article 89 unambiguously shows that there is a constitutional obligation to lay an Ordinance before both the Houses of the Parliament, if it does not contain provisions dealing with any of the matters referred to in sub paragraph (i) of Article 89 (2)(a), as is the case relating to the impugned Ordinance. Either of the House is empowered to disapprove the impugned Ordinance by passing a resolution.

The court said that the power conferred under Article 89 of the Constitution is extraordinary and is subject to fulfillment of prescribed jurisdictional pre conditions. It enables the executive branch to circumvent the scheme of legislation prescribed under the Constitution through the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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