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No Ambiguity in the Constitution

What is no ambiguity in the constitution of Pakistan

by Dr Hassan Farooqi
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dr hassan farooqi

The concept of the Supreme Court was akin to a mother’s lap, where every oppressed individual sought solace and justice, much like a child. In the realm of worldly affairs, the Supreme Court is the ultimate hope for justice. The sight of its building and the scales of justice displayed outside used to touch the hearts of both the common man and the elite, filling them with a sense of hope and fear. However, due to the sensationalization of some former Chief Justices by the media, they couldn’t remain untouched and, as a result, judicial proceedings started taking a backseat to media coverage. From judges’ statements to lawyers’ arguments, the coverage expanded to include body language and more. Consequently, judgments were being preempted even before they were delivered. It reached a point where the media’s influence penetrated the inner workings of the judiciary.
People who have watched Supreme Court proceedings broadcast on television have likely reached conclusions even before the judgments were announced. It has become known which judge has ruled in favor of what and who has dissented. Although the current Chief Justice, Justice Faiz Isa, has boldly decided that court proceedings should be televised to ensure transparency, we, as a nation, have been divided on various issues. While some are marginalized, others are affluent, and there is still discontent despite affluence. We have diverse elements within us, like Mullah Jatt and Noori Nutt. Everyone seems to be at odds with each other, be it in our neighborhoods, streets, or towns. While such conflicts have persisted for a long time in our localities, the news that a lawyer was told by the Chief Justice to speak politely in court should have awakened those who viewed the Supreme Court as a sanctified institution. It was a reminder that civility is as crucial here as anywhere else.
However, I would like to suspend this discussion with my verse:
“Do not defame yourself; do not lift a cloth from your stomach.
What remains in my sight, let it remain in respect.”
Now, let’s discuss the Supreme Court practice and procedure case that emerged due to a difference between ten and five judges. This judgment benefits some and harms others, and I do not seek to delve into that. I am a student of society, so I will focus on the societal perspective. The issue at hand was purely constitutional, and our constitution is detailed. Although debates about this constitution continue in both houses of parliament, everyone offers interpretations and explanations according to their political affiliations and interests. This is precisely what these forums are for, and if there is a complexity, the Supreme Court is there to provide guidance. My question here is, why did this case, which was entirely constitutional, divide the highest court into 15 distinguished judges?
It cannot be that ten judges are correct while five are incorrect or vice versa. The law is categorical, similar to the rules of deductive reasoning that conclude that, “All men are mortal… Socrates is a man… Therefore, Socrates is mortal.” After the first two premises, the third conclusion is logically derived. Here, the division of opinions is inexplicable. Is it possible that our constitution is unclear and ambiguous? Can even an ordinary jurist’s opinion have the force of law? Does law solely depend on a judge’s view? While this kind of division is acceptable for issues such as theft, burglary, or family cases, I am astonished when it occurs for constitutional matters.
Given that parliament has the authority to legislate, why is there a conflict like this? Increasing or decreasing the powers of institutions falls within the purview of parliament. Why is there a need for confrontation? However, if differences like those in the recent judgment arise, fundamental questions may emerge in the minds of inquisitive individuals like me. For instance, does our constitution lack clarity and precision? Can the competence of a judge be reduced even at such a high position? Is there a space for any subjectivity in the law, or does the majority’s opinion alone become law? Even though in a full bench situation, the judgment typically aligns with the majority, if fifteen different petitions come before fifteen different benches of fifteen judges, what happens then? It could be a matter of fate or destiny. Is it possible that even at this high rank, our judges are not immune to political, personal, familial, communal, linguistic, and other affiliations? I don’t personally doubt anyone’s knowledge or ability. If there is doubt, it rests on the social views that, like in other fields, have also crept into the judiciary. Perhaps this is why our judiciary ranks 130th in the world.
In conclusion, I apologize with regret.

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