Full judgment on CTG
After sixteen months of the "short order" being passed by the Chief Justice in May 2011, we now have the full verdict on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, declaring the caretaker system void. Given the nature of the case the delay should not have happened. And the fact that the short verdict had very substantively transformed the country's political scenario, we feel constrained to say that to have taken that long to draw up the full verdict was an injudicious act on the part of the former Chief Justice, made even more so by the fact that the judgment was not a unanimous one, something that had not come to the pubic domain till recently, and that the verdict was signed more than a year after the former CJ had retired.
The case dates back to 1996 when an appeal against the 13th Amendment was disposed of summarily. The verdict was challenged in 1999 and disposed of too in 2004 only to be revived in 2005 but whose hearing started only in March 2011.
We feel constrained to say that the judgment has created more confusion and compounded a matter that had been resolved by the 13th Amendment. And that related to the issue of holding a credible and acceptable election by a neutral body. In the meanwhile the government, taking advantage of the short order and exploiting the verdict very selectively, has done away with caretaker system through the 15th Amendment. Would we be wrong to surmise that the haste is indicative of faulty judgment?
The judgment we feel suffers from two fundamental contradictions. While the learned former CJ declared the 13th Amendment ultra vires of the constitution, he has ruled that the election of the Tenth and the Eleventh Parliament may be held under the provisions of the13th Amendment basing on the age old principles that which otherwise is not lawful, necessity makes lawful, that safety of the people is the supreme law and that safety of the State is the Supreme law.
May we put it to the ex-CJ whether the objective conditions that necessitated the caretaker system, and one which compelled him to recommend elections under the impugned amendment, have changed at all? In fact, if anything, the schism between the two parties has widened and the prospect of a grave political flux made more real. The verdict, we are afraid, ignores this very important reality.
We feel that the factors which compelled the CJ to suggest that the next two general elections may be held under the old arrangement remain valid. And that suggestion should be a used to facilitate discussions to resolve the issue of future elections amicably.