ISLAMABAD: The Law Ministry has failed to file its appeal in the apex court against Federal Shariat Court’s (FSC) December 21, 2010, judgment on Women Protection Bill-2006, despite President Asif Zardari’s declaration on Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary on December 27, 2010, that the government would challenge the FSC judgment.
On the other hand, Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court (SC) would take up two petitions, filed by executive member of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Aslam Ghumman and Women Action Forum, on the same matter today (Wednesday). The appellate bench comprises Justice Tariq Parvez, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Dr Fida Muhammad Khan and Justice Dr Muhammad al Ghazali
The petitioner, Aslam Ghumman, has prayed for suspension of the FSC’s December 21, 2010, ruling, terming it illegal because, according to him, the matter does not fall in FSC’s jurisdiction. “Under Article 199, it is the power of high courts to declare the validation of laws,” he maintained. The petitioner also stated that the only objective of the FSC is to examine and determine whether or not the laws of the country were in consonance with Shariah. The counsel said he had serious reservations on the FSC verdict on Women Protection Act (WPA)-2006, as the FSC did not touch those sections of the WPA that he had challenged.
The sources revealed to Daily Times that after the death of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, PPP-led government wanted to avoid any controversy and, therefore, it was avoiding amendment in those sections which were made part of the constitution in General Zia’s regime. This was the reason the Law Ministry has not challenged the FSC’s judgment in the Supreme Court, they added. It is relevant to mention that in a detailed reference, which had been sent to the prime minister, law minister Babar Awan strongly recommended the PM to neither amend the blasphemy law nor pardon Aasia Bibi.
Meanwhile, Tariq Mahmood advocate said that it was very necessary for the government to challenge the FSC’s judgment in the SC. He warned that if the government did not file an appeal against the FSC’s judgment, it would be a bad thing for the judicial system.
Attorney General Maulvi Anwar ul Haq also confirmed to Daily Times that the government still had not challenged the FSC’s judgment in the apex court. He said that the FSC had observed in its judgment that their decision would stand operative from June 22, 2011, so the government still had time to file appeal against the judgment.
SCBA President Asma Jahangir in her press statement on January 3 had also expressed her despair at the recent judgment of the FSC and said that the judgment has several legal flaws and disregards all previous precedents. She had emphasised that by distributing the judicial framework of the superior judiciary, the FSC has itself advanced the argument of dispensing with parallel judicial system. She also observed that the judgment would also pose hardships for the litigants and lawyers as a huge number of criminal cases would be heard at the FSC (mostly in Islamabad) rather than in the high courts.