May 12, 2000SUPREME COURT Honorable Justice Irshad Hassan Khan , 'Maqbool Itlahi Malik & Abdul Haleem Pirzada & Kadir Bakhsh Bhutto 2000 SCMR 1137
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IRSHAD HASAN KHAN, C.J.---For detailed reasons to be recorded later, we intend to dispose of the above petitions under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, directed against the Army take-over of 12th October, 1999, the Proclamation of Emergency, dated 14th October, 1999, the Provisional Constitution Order No. l of 1999 and the Oath of
Office (Judges) Order No. l of 2000, in the following terms:--
Stability in the system, success of the Government, democracy, good governance, economic stability, prosperity of the people, tranquillity, peace and maintenance of law and order depend to a considerable degree on the interpretation of Constitution and legislative instruments by the superior Courts. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the judiciary is independent and no restraints are placed on its performance and operation. It claims and has always claimed that it has the right to interpret the Constitution or any legislative instrument and to say as to what a particular provision of the Constitution or a legislative instrument means or does not mean, even if that particular provision is a provision seeking to oust the jurisdiction of this Court. Under the mandate of the Constitution, the Courts P` exercise their jurisdiction as conferred upon them by the Constitution or the law. Therefore, so long as the superior Courts exist, they shall continue to exercise powers and functions within the domain of their jurisdiction and shall also continue to exercise power of judicial review in respect of any law or provision of law, which comes for examination before the superior Courts to ensure that all persons are able to live securely under the rule of law; to promote, within the proper limits of judicial functions, the observance and the attainment of human and Fundamental Rights; and to administer justice impartially among persons and between the persons and the State, which is a sine qua non for the maintenance of independence of judiciary and encouragement of public confidence in the judicial system.
Fresh oath under Oath of Office (Judges) Order No.1 of 2000, does not in any way preclude the Judges of this Court from examining the questions raised in the above petitions, which have to be decided in 8 accordance with their conscience and law so as to resolve the grave crises and avoid disaster by preventing imposition of Martial Law for which the Constitution does not provide any remedy.
New oath of office was taken by the Judges of this Court under PCO No. 1 of 1999 read with Oath of Office (Judges) Order No.1 of 2000 with a view to reiterating the well-established principle that the first and the foremost duty of the Judges of the superior Courts is to save the judicial organ of the State. This was exactly what was done. By virtue of PCO No. l of 1999, the Constitution has not lost its effect in its entirety although its observance as a whole has been interrupted for a transitional period. The C activity launched by the Armed Forces through an extra-Constitutional measure, involves the violation of "some of the rights" protected by the Constitution, which still holds the field but some of its provisions have been held in abeyance. A duty is cast upon the Superior Judiciary to-offer some recompense for those rights which were purportedly violated in view of the promulgation of PCO No. 1 of 1999. This could be achieved only by taking the Oath and not by declining to do so and thereby becoming a party to the closure of the Courts, which would not have solved any problem whatsoever but would have resulted in chaos, anarchy and disruption of peaceful life. Independence of judiciary does not mean that Judges should quit their jobs and become instrumental in the closure of the Courts. Indeed, the latter course would have been the most detestable thing to happen. Independence of judiciary means that the contentious matters, of whatever magnitude they may be, should be decided/resolved by the Judges of the superior Courts according to their conscience. This Court, while performing its role as "the beneficial expression of a laudable political realism", had three options open to it in relation to the situation arising out of the military take-over on twelfth day of October, 1999, firstly, it could tender resignation en bloc, which most certainly could be equated with sanctifying (a) chaos/anarchy and (b) denial of access to justice to every citizen of Pakistan wherever he may be; secondly, a complete surrender to the present regime by dismissing these , petitions for lack of jurisdiction in view of the purported ouster of its jurisdiction under PCO No.1 of 1999 and thirdly, acceptance of the situation as it is, in an attempt to save what "institutional values remained to be saved". This Court, after conscious deliberations and in an endeavour to defend and preserve the national independence, the security and stability of Pakistan, sovereignty and honour of the country and to safeguard the interest of the community as a whole, decided to maintain and uphold the independence of judiciary, which, in its turn, would protect the State fabric and guarantee human rights/Fundamental Rights. It took the Oath under PCO No.1 of 1999 so as to secure the enforcement of law, extend help to the law enforcing agencies for maintenance of public order and with a view to restoring democratic institutions, achieving their stability and guaranteeing Constitutional rights to the people of Pakistan.
Oath of Office prescribed under Articles 178 and 194 of the Constitution for the Judges of the superior Courts contains a specific provision that a Judge shall abide by the Code of Conduct issued by the Supreme Judicial Council. Same is the position with regard to the provisions regarding Oath of Office (Judges) Order No. l of 2000. The precise provisions in the Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 are that a Judge, to whom oath is administered; shall abide by the provisions of Proclamation of Emergency of Fourteenth day of October, 1999, PCO 1 of 1999, as amended, and the Code of Conduct issued by the Supreme Judicial Council. But there is specific omission of words, "to preserve and defend the Constitution". Adherence to the Code of Conduct has not been subjected to ' any pre-conditions and there can be no deviation from it by a Judge who takes oath either under the Constitution of PCO No. l of 1999 or Oath of Office (Judges) Order 1 of 2000. One of the requirements of the Code of Conduct is that the oath of a Judge implies complete submission to the Constitution, and under the Constitution to the law. Subject to these governing obligations, his function of interpretation and application of the Constitution and the law is to be discharged for the maintenance of the Rule of Law over the whole range of human activities within the nation. Thus the new Oath merely indicates that the Superior Judiciary, like the rest of the country had accepted the fact that on 12th October, 1999, a radical transformation took place.
Notwithstanding anything contained in the 'Proclamation of Emergency of the Fourteenth day of October, 1999, the Provisional Constitution Order No.1 of 1999, as amended and the Oath of Office (Judges) Order No.1 of 2000, all of which purportedly restrained this Court from calling in question or permitting to call in question the validity of any of the provisions thereof, this Court, in the exercise of its inherent powers of judicial review has the right to examine the validity of the aforesaid instruments. Additionally, submission of the Federation in response to the Court's notice concerning its own legitimacy also suggests that this Court has an inherent authority, arising from the submission of both the parties to its jurisdiction, notwithstanding the preliminary objection raised in the written statement as to the maintainability of the above petitions. In the exercise of its right to interpret the law, this Court has to decide the precise nature of the ouster clause in the above instruments and the extent to which the jurisdiction of the Courts has been ousted, in conformity with the well -established principles that the provisions seeking to oust the jurisdiction of the superior Courts are to be construed strictly with a pronounced leaning against ouster. The Constitution petitions filed by the petitioners under Article 184(3) of the Constitution are, therefore, maintainable.
National Assembly is the highest representative body, which reflects the will and aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Similar is the status of a Provincial Assembly in a Province. Senate, being a symbol of unity of the federating units has its own utility for the country as a whole. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the impugned suspension of the above democratic institutions is examined with great care and caution, otherwise it would adversely affect the democratic process in the country, which may cause instability, impair the economic growth and resultantly prove detrimental to the general well-being of the people. However, where the representatives of the people, who are responsible for running the affairs of the State are themselves accused of massive corruption and corrupt practices and in the public as well as private sectors are benefiting there from and resist establishing good governance; where a large number of references have been filed against the former Prime Minister, Ministers, Parliamentarians and members of the Provincial Assemblies for their disqualification on account of corruption and corrupt practices; where there is a general perception that corruption is being practised by diversified strata including politicians, Parliamentarians, public officials and ordinary citizens and that a number of Parliamentarians and members of the Provincial Assemblies mis-declared their assets before Election Commission and Tax Authorities; where there was no political and economic stability and bank loan defaults were rampant and that as per report of Governor, State Bank of Pakistan Rs.356 billion are payable by the bank defaulters up to 12-10-1999, having no accountability and transparency; where economic stability in Pakistan was highly precarious and there was an overall economic slowdown as GDP growth during the past three years had hardly kept pace with the growth of population; where Pakistan has a debt burden, which equals the country's entire national income; where all the institutions of the State were- being systematically destroyed and the economy was in a state of collapse due to self-serving policies of the previous Government, which had threatened the existence, security, economic life, financial stability and credit of Pakistan; where a situation had arisen under which the democratic institutions were not functioning in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, inasmuch as. the Senate and the National and Provincial Assemblies were closely associated with the former Prime Minister and there was no real democracy because the country was, by and large, under one man rule; where an attempt was made to politicize the Army, destabilize it and create dissension within its ranks and where the judiciary was ridiculed, leaving no stone unturned to disparage and malign it by making derogatory and contemptuous speeches by some of the members of the previous ruling party inside and outside the Parliament and no Reference was made to the Chief Election Commissioner for their disqualification as members of the Parliament under Article 63(2) of the Constitution; where the disparaging remarks against the judiciary crossed all limits with the rendering judgment by this Court in the case of Sh. Liaquat Hussain v. Federation of Pakistan PLD 1999 SC 504, declaring the establishment of Military Courts as ultra vires of the Constitution, which resulted into a slanderous campaign against the judiciary launched by the former Prime Minister registering his helplessness in the face of the Judiciary not allowing him the establishment of Military Courts as a mode of speedy justice; where the image of the judiciary was tarnished under a well-conceived design where the telephones of the Judges of the superior Courts and other personalities were tapped in spite of the law laid down by this Court in the case of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto v. President of Pakistan PLD 1998 SC 388, that tapping of telephones and eaves-dropping was immoral, illegal and unconstitutional; where storming of the Supreme Court was resorted to allegedly by some of the leaders and activities of the Pakistan Muslim League which ultimately led to the issuance of contempt notices against them/condemners by the Full Bench of this Court in a pending appeal; where Mian Nawaz Sharif's Constitutional and moral authority stood completely eroded and where situation was somewhat similar and analogous to the situation that was prevalent in July, 1977, the extra-Constitutional step of taking over the affairs of the country by the Armed Forces for a transitional period to prevent any further destabilization, to create corruption-free atmosphere at national level `through transparent accountability and revive the economy before restoration of democratic institutions under the Constitution, JE is validated, in that Constitution offered no solution to the present crisis.
In the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, held on 21-23 September, 1999, ,commenting on the Framework. for Commonwealth Principles on Promoting Good Governance and Combating Corruption, it was, inter alia, observed that; Good governance is not a luxury but a basic requirement for .development. Corruption, which un-determines development, is generally an outcome and symptom of poor governance. It has reached global proportions and needs to be attacked directly and explicitly The Common-Wealth should firmly commit itself to the policy of "zero tolerance" of all types of corruption. This policy must permeate national political cultures, governance, legal `systems and administration. Where corruption is ingrained and pervasive, especially at the highest political levels, its eradication may require a sustained effort over a protracted period of time. However, the policy of "zero tolerance" should be adopted from the outset, demonstrating a serious commitment to pursue the fight against corruption. The 'Commonwealth should remain firm in its determination that the high standards and goals enunciated in the 1991 Harare Declaration are upheld and enhanced. Creating an environment, which is corruption-free will require vigorous actions at the national and international levels, and within the Commonwealth itself. These actions should encompass the prevention of corruption, the enforcement of laws against it and the mobilization of public support for anti-corruption strategies".
Probably, the situation could have been avoided if Article 58(2)(b) of the Constitution had been in the field, which maintained parliamentary form of Government and had provided checks and balances between the powers of the President and the Prime Minister to let the system run without any let or hindrance to forestall the situation in which Martial Law can be imposed. With the repeal of Article 58(2)(b) of the Constitution, there was no remedy provided in the Constitution to meet the situation like the present one with which 'the country was confronted, therefore, Constitutional deviation made by the Chief of the Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf for the welfare of the people rather than abrogating the Constitution or imposing Martial Law by means of an extra-Constitutional measure is validated for a transitional period on ground of State necessity and on the principle that it is in public interest to accord legal recognition to the present regime with a view to achieving his declared objectives and that it is in the interest of the community that order be preserved. Legal recognition/legitimacy can be accorded to the present regime also on the principle that the Government should be by the consent of the governed, whether voters or not. Here there is an implied consent of the governed i.e. the people of Pakistan in general including politicians/parliamentarians, etc. to the Army take-over, in that no protests worth the name or agitations have been launched against the Army take-over and/or its continuance. The Court can take judicial notice of the fact that the people of Pakistan have generally welcomed the Army take-over due to their avowed intention to initiate the process of across the board and transparent accountability against those, alleged of corruption in every walk of life, of abuse of national wealth and of not taking appropriate measures for stabilizing the economy and democratic institutions. Another principle, width is attracted is that since an extra- Constitutional action has been taken by General Pervez Musharraf wielding effective political power, it is open to the Court to steer a middle course so as to ensure that the framework of the pre-existing Order survives but the Constitutional deviation therefrom be justified on the principle of necessity, rendering lawful what would otherwise be unlawful. However, prolonged involvement of the Army in civil affairs runs a grave risk of politicizing it, which would not be in national interest, therefore, civilian rule in the country must be restored within the shortest possible time after achieving the declared objectives, which necessitated the military take-over and Proclamation of Emergency as spelt out from the speeches of the Chief Executive, dated 13th and 17th October, 1999. The acceptance of the above principles do not imply abdication from judicial review in the transient suspension of the previous legal order.
We accordingly hold as under:--
1. On 12th October, 1999 a situation arose for which the Constitution provided no solution and the intervention by the Armed Forces through an extra-Constitutional measure became inevitable, which is hereby validated on the basis of the doctrine of State necessity and the principle of salus populi suprema lex as embodied in Begum Nusrat Bhutto's case. The doctrine of State necessity is recognised not only in Islam and other religions of the world but also accepted by the eminent international jurists including Hugo Grotius, Chitty and De Smith and some superior Courts from foreign jurisdiction to fill a political vacuum and bridge the gap.
2. Sufficient corroborative and confirmatory material has been produced by the Federal Government in support of the intervention by the Armed Forces through extra-Constitutional measure. The material consisting of newspaper clippings, writings, etc. in support of the impugned intervention is relevant and has been taken into consideration as admissible material on the basis of which a person of ordinary prudence would conclude that the matters and events narrated therein did occur. The findings recorded herein are confined to the controversies involved in these cases alone.
3. All past and closed transactions, as well as such executive actions as were required for the orderly running of the State and all acts, which tended to advance or promote the good of the people are also validated.
4. That the 1973 Constitution still remains the supreme law of the land subject to the condition that certain parts thereof have been held in abeyance on account of State necessity;
5. That the superior Courts continue to function under the )Constitution. The mere fact that the Judges of the superior Courts have taken a new oath under the Oath of Office (Judges) Order. No. 1 of 2000, does not in any manner derogate from this position, as the Courts had been originally established under the 1973 Constitution, and have continued in their functions in spite of the Proclamation of Emergency and PCO No. 1 of 1999 and other legislative instruments issued by the Chief Executive from time to time;
6.(i) That General Pervez Musharraf, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Army Staff through Proclamation of Emergency dated the 14th October, 1999, followed by PCO 1 of 1999, whereby he has been described as Chief Executive, having validly assumed power by means of an extra-Constitutional step, in the interest of the State and for the welfare of the people, is entitled to perform all such acts and promulgate all legislative measures as enumerated hereinafter, namely:--
(a) All acts or legislative measures which are in accordance with, or could have been made under the 1973 Constitution, including the power to amend it;
(b) All acts which tend to advance or promote the good of the people;
(c) All acts required to be done for the ordinary orderly running of the State; and
(d) All such measures as would establish or lead to the establishment of the declared objectives of the Chief Executive.
(ii) That Constitutional amendments by the Chief Executive can be resorted to only if the Constitution falls to provide a solution for attainment of his declared objectives and further that the power to amend the Constitution by virtue of clause (6), sub-clause (i) (a) (ibid) is controlled by sub-clauses (b), (c) and (d) in the same clause.
(iii) That no amendment shall be made in the salient features of the Constitution i.e. independence of judiciary, federalism, parliamentary form of Government blended with Islamic provisions:
(iv) That Fundamental Rights provided in Part lI, Chapter 1 of the Constitution shall continue to hold the field but the State will be authorized to make any law or take any executive action in deviation of Articles 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 24 as contemplated by Article 233(1) of the Constitution, keeping in view the language or Articles 10, 23 and 25 thereof.
(v) That these acts, or any of them, may be performed or carried out by means of Orders issued by the Chief Executive or through Ordinances on his advice.
(vi) That the superior Courts continue to have the power of judicial review to judge the validity of any act or action of the Armed Forces, if challenged, in the light of the principles underlying the law of State necessity as stated above. Their powers under Article 199 of the Constitution thus remain available to their full extent, and may be exercised as heretofore, notwithstanding. anything to the contrary contained in any legislative instrument enacted by the Chief Executive and/or any order issued by the Chief Executive or by any person or authority acting on his behalf.
(vii) That the Courts are not merely to determine whether there exists any nexus between the orders made, proceedings taken and acts done by the Chief Executive or by any authority or person acting on his behalf, and his declared objectives as spelt out from his speeches, dated 13th and 17th October, 1999, on the touchstone of State necessity but such orders made, proceedings taken and acts done including the legislative measures, shall also be subject to judicial review by the superior Courts.
6. That the previous Proclamation of Emergency of 28th May, 1998 was issued under Article 232(1) of the Constitution, whereas the present Emergency of 14th October, 1999 was proclaimed by way of an extra-Constitutional step as a follow up of the Army take-over which also stands validated notwithstanding the continuance of the previous Emergency which still holds the field.
7. That the validity of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999 will be examined separately in appropriate proceedings at appropriate stage.
8. That the cases of learned former Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court, who had not taken oath under the Oath of Office (Judges)-Order, 2000 (Order 1 of 2000), and those Judges of the Lahore High Court, High Court of Sindh and Peshawar High Court, who were not given oath, cannot be re-opened being hit by the doctrine of past and closed transaction.
9. That the Government shall accelerate the process of accountability in a coherent and transparent manner justly, fairly, equitably and in accordance with law.
10. That the Judges of the superior Courts are also subject to accountability in accordance with the methodology laid down in Article 209 of the Constitution.
11. General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of the Army Staff and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is a holder of Constitutional post. His purported arbitrary removal in violation of the principle of audi alteram partem was ab initio void and of no legal effect.
12. That this order will not affect the trials conducted and convictions recorded including proceedings for accountability pursuant to various orders made and Orders/laws promulgated by the Chief Executive or any person exercising powers or jurisdiction under his authority and the pending trials/proceedings may continue subject to this order.
13. This is not a case where old legal order has been completely suppressed or destroyed,, but merely a case of Constitutional deviation for a transitional period so as to enable the Chief Executive to achieve his declared objectives.
14. That the current electoral rolls are outdated. Fresh elections cannot be held without updating the, electoral rolls. The learned Attorney -General states that as per report of the Chief Election Commissioner this process will take two years. Obviously, after preparation of the electoral rolls some time is required for delimitation of . constituencies and disposal of objections, etc.
15. That we take judicial notice of the fact that ex-Senator Mr. Sartaj Aziz moved a Constitution Petition No. 15 of 1996, seeking a mandamus to the concerned authorities for preparation of fresh electoral rolls as, according to Mr. Khalid Anwar, through whom, the above petition was filed, the position to the contrary was tantamount to perpetuating disenfranchisement of millions of people of Pakistan in violation of Articles 17 and 19 of the Constitution. Even MQM also resorted to a similar Constitutional Petition bearing No.5 of 1996 seeking the same relief. However, for reasons best known to the petitioners in both the petitions, the same were not pursued any further.
16. That having regard to all the relevant factors involved in the case I including the one detailed in paragraphs 14 and 15 above three years' period is allowed to the Chief Executive with effect from the date of the Army take-over i.e. 12th October, 1999 for achieving his declared objectives.
17. That the Chief Executive shall appoint a date, not later than 90 days before the expiry of the aforesaid period of three years, for holding of a general election to the National -Assembly and the. Provincial Assemblies and the Senate of Pakistan.
18. That this Court has jurisdiction to review/re-examine the continuation of the Proclamation of Emergency dated 12th October, 1999 at any stage if the circumstances so warrant as held by this Court in the case of Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari v, Federation of Pakistan PLD 1999 SC 57.
Irshad Hasan Khan, C.J.
Muhammad Bashir Jehangiri, J
Sh. Ijaz Nisar, J
Abdur Rehman Khan, J
Sh Riaz Ahmed, J
Ch. Muhammad Arif, J
Munir A. Sheikh, J
Rashid Aziz Khan, J
Nazim Hussain Siddiqui, J
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, J
Qazi Muhammad Farooq, J
Rana Bhagwan Das, J
M.B.A./Z-6/S Order accordingly.


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