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‘Chief justice’s suspension coup against judiciary’


Islamabad : The suspension of Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry was "a coup against the judiciary" planned by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and his government, the chief justice's counsel has submitted before the Supreme Court here.

There were 42 references filed before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), but the one filed by Musharraf against the suspended chief justice was being pursued with a "maddening rush and frenzy" even though it was numbered 43, Aitzaz Ahsan submitted before a 13-judge bench of the apex court on Thursday.

Besides being discriminatory, this was tantamount to a "coup" against the apex court, Ahsan was quoted as saying by Daily Times.

When one of the judges on the bench said the 42 references "might have been simple complaints", Ahsan countered by asking: "Will those complaints never be taken up or heard for adjudication?"

Chaudhry's suspension on March 9 on the charge that he had misused his office to promote his son has triggered a nationwide protest with opposition parties joining lawyers, many of whom have been boycotting courts, to allege that the Musharraf regime was trying to gag the judiciary.

Ahsan argued that the action against Chaudhry was tantamount to "a coup to topple a chief justice".

He said that orders issued first by the president and then by the SJC restraining the chief justice from working had no legal force, as the executive did not have this power.

Ahsan also lambasted the March 9 meeting of the SJC, contending that only the chief justice or the acting chief justice were legally authorised to convene it.

The arrival of two members of the SJC – the chief justices of the Lahore High Court and Sindh High Court – in Islamabad before the acting chief justice was sworn in confirmed that the executive had planned the removal of the CJP in advance, he said.