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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Tuesday, castigated former federal minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed for bringing political matters before the court and warned him of an “exemplary fine”, if he moved a similar petition again.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed’s petition challenging the appointments of federal ministers and special advisors to the prime minister terming these illegal appointments as their total number exceeds the prescribed strength of federal cabinet in the Constitution.

The IHC order stated; “The petition is frivolous and ought to have been dismissed with imposition of exemplary costs. However, the Court exercises restraint on account of respect for the Parliament because the petitioner is one of the chosen representatives.”

It further said, “The Court is not inclined to exercise its extraordinary discretionary jurisdiction and; therefore, the petition is dismissed in limine.”

In his petition, Ahmed invoked the constitutional jurisdiction vested in this Court under Article 199 of the Constitution seeking a writ to declare that respondents no 4 to 75 have been appointed as federal ministers and ministers of state in violation of Article 92(1) of the Constitution.

The court order said that the petitioner had tendered his resignation but it has not been accepted by the worthy Speaker as yet and the petitioner; therefore, enjoys the status as a member of the National Assembly of the Parliament.

The IHC bench mentioned in its judgment that it has been admitted in the petition that under Article 92 of the Constitution, the prime minister is empowered to nominate not more than 50 members of the Parliament to form the Cabinet and it has been unequivocally admitted in paragraph 8 of the petition that the present Cabinet consists of 34 ministers and seven Ministers of State.

It added that likewise, it is not disputed that four Advisors have been appointed on the advice of the prime minister and the composition of the Cabinet is definitely not in violation of the restrictions imposed by the Constitution.

The bench noted that the petitioner has served as a member of the Cabinet and the composition of the Cabinet was similar then. It further said that during that period, a large number of Special Assistants were appointed by the then Prime Minister and the appointments were challenged before this Court and the petitions were dismissed while it was declared that the Prime Minister was empowered under the Rules of Business, 1973 to appoint Special Assistants.

The court continued that it was further declared that Special Assistants were not members of the Cabinet and that there was no restriction regarding the number of such appointments. It observed that the Petitioner is one of the longest serving parliamentarians and he has also served as member of the Cabinet. “It was not expected that he would file a frivolous petition because it is obvious from his own petition that the Constitution has not been violated,” maintained the bench.

Justice Minallah said that it is ironic that instead of settling political disputes in the Parliament, political leaders prefer to invoke the jurisdiction of the constitutional Courts. He added, “This tendency has undermined the prestige, sanctity and effectiveness of the Parliament. Simultaneously, it unnecessarily drags the Courts into controversies of political nature. It has a profound effect on the rights of the litigants.”

“The Parliament represents the people of the country. They send their representatives to the Parliament with the expectation that they would serve them with devotion and commitment. It is the duty of the elected representatives to strengthen the Parliament and uphold its supremacy and sanctity by resolving the disputes within the forums that form part of the legislative organ of the state,” maintained the IHC chief justice.

He concluded that the tendency of bringing political disputes before the constitutional Courts is definitely not in the public interest and it must be discouraged and deprecated.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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