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SC ruling explains ambit of interpreting law

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ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court has held that the superior courts should not adopt such an interpretation that renders a statute or any of its provisions inoperative or unworkable, stressing that the principle of equality or egalitarianism did not mean that every law must have a universal application to all persons.

The apex court set aside an Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruling that had nullified the National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) ban on motorcycles on the motorways. A three-judge bench, led by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, had heard the petition filed by Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman.

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In its nine-page judgment, authored by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, the bench noted that it was a well acknowledged and long-standing precept that persons might be classified into groups and such groups might be treated differently if there was a reasonable basis for such difference.

“No doubt, the court can strike down a law if it is found to be unconstitutional, but it cannot introduce any inexactitude or absurdity or restrict or constrict a provision by espousing or presuming an anomalous elucidation in a peculiar manner to make it meaningless or inconsequential in the reading down concept,” it said.

The apex court judgment noted that it was a well acknowledged and long-standing precept that persons might be classified into groups and such groups then might be treated differently if there was a reasonable basis for such difference.

“Article 4 of the Constitution safeguards and guarantees the inalienable right of every citizen of Pakistan to enjoy the protection of law and to be treated in accordance with law wherever he may be, and of every other  person for the time being within Pakistan,” the judgment said.

“…No action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law; no person shall be prevented from or be hindered in doing that which is not prohibited by law; and no person shall be compelled to do that which the law does not require him to do,” it continued.

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The judgement mentioned that the principle of equality or egalitarianism did not mean that every law must have a universal application to all persons. In fact, it added, the fluctuating needs of dissimilar sets of persons necessitated different treatment.

It said that the touchstone of acceptable classification required the fulfilment of two basic ingredients. The first was that the classification must be founded on an “intelligible differentia” which might judiciously distinguish persons or things that were grouped together from others left out of the group.

The second was that the differentia must have a logical and reasonable linkage with the object sought to be achieved, the ruling added. “The expression ‘intelligible differentia’ connotes the departure which is capable of being understood and made sense of,” it added.

“A categorisation of groups of people is ruminated as being reasonable when the classification is based on intelligible differentia having a rational relationship with the objective of the act,” it said, adding that it was a court’s regimen to review legislative and executive actions to maintain and sustain the rule of law.

“Under the territory and province of Judicial review, the court reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. In fact, this is a process under which executive or legislative actions may be subject to review by the judiciary,” the judgment explained.

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“The Court may invalidate laws, acts and governmental actions that are incompatible with a higher authority; more so, an executive decision may be invalidated for being unlawful and also maintains check and balance. Judicial review can be sought on the grounds that a decision-maker misdirects itself in law, exercises a power wrongly, or improperly purports to exercise a power that it does not have, which is known as acting ultra vires.”

The bench noted that a decision could be challenged as unreasonable if no reasonable authority could ever have come to it; there was a failure to observe statutory procedures or natural justice; or it was in breach of the doctrine of legitimate expectation, either procedural or substantive.

“At the same time, clear distinction or line of demarcation is also required to be drawn by the Courts in the middle of judicial review vis-a-vis judicial overreach in order to avoid transgression of border line,” the court emphasised.

The court also referred its earlier ruling in which it shed some light on the distinction between judicial review, judicial activism and judicial overreach. It held that the judicial review was the power of the courts to examine the actions of the legislative, executive, and administrative arms of the government and to determine whether such actions were consistent with the Constitution.

“Actions judged inconsistent are declared unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void,” the judgment said. Judicial review, the judgment added, was the genus and judicial activism or judicial restraint were its subspecies.

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It was further held that the judicial overreach was when the judiciary started interfering with the proper functioning of the legislative or executive organs of the government. “This is totally uncharacteristic of the role of the judiciary envisaged under the Constitution and is most undesirable in a constitutional democracy.”

The court also held that Judicial overreach was transgressive as it transformed the judicial role of adjudication and interpretation of law into that of judicial legislation or judicial policy, thus encroaching on other branches of the government and disregarding the fine line of separation of powers.

“Such judicial leap in the dark is also known as “judicial adventurism” or “judicial imperialism,” the judgment said, stressing that a judge should remain within the confines of the dispute brought before him and decide the matter by remaining within the confines of the law and the Constitution.

At present, the judgement noted, the issue related to the niceties and applicability of the Section 45 of the Ordinance 2000, wherein the government or any agency might prohibit or restrict the driving of any specified class of motor vehicles in a specified area or road in the interest of public safety or convenience.

“According to the scheme of the Ordinance 2000, the prime factor and consideration is the safety of the public at large and the ban imposed on motorcycles is within the precincts and parameters of law which can neither be construed as the violation of any fundamental right to life or liberty, nor this section was challenged before the High Court as being ultra vires the Constitution or the Ordinance 2000,” the court declared.

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“We do not subscribe to the views of the learned High Court that the terms regulate wherever used in the Ordinance 2000 can only be considered for the purpose of supervision, superintendence and administration  and no restrictions can be imposed under Section 45 of the Ordinance 2000, it said.

On the contrary, the court said, the true purpose and exercise of powers conferred under Section 45 also encompassed the responsibility of supervision and administration, including the power to restrict the entry of motorcyclists on motorways for maintaining safety and protection.





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Pakistan

Imran’s right of defence struck out in defamation case

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ISLAMABAD:

Additional District Judge Lahore Chaudhry Muhammad Asif struck out the right of defence of former prime minister since concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff were not submitted on Thursday.

“This court has been left with no option except to strike out the right of defence of the defendant (Imran Khan) in this case due to non-submission of requisite replies by the defendant regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff. So, the right of defence of the defendant is hereby struck out in this case accordingly,” the order stated.

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The court asked the plaintiff to submit a list of witnesses on November 29.

It has been learned that the court has so far conducted 78 hearings of the case.

The order stated that the counsel for the defendant submitted an application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant was going to file a revised petition against the order of the court regarding the dismissal of concerned objections of the defendant.

Also read: ‘No objections’ to Imran’s helicopter landing at Parade Ground: GHQ

“From the perusal of record, it reveals that various reasonable opportunities have been provided to defendant to submit the requisite replies to concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff but the defendant has not done the needful,” it stated.

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“Vide previous order dated 17.11.2022, one more opportunity was granted to the defendant in this regard with the clarification that in case of submission of requisite replies from the defendant’s side regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff on the next date, the right of defence of the defendant shall be struck out. No lawful justification exits for the grant of further adjournment,” it added.

The court rejected the adjournment plea of Imran’s counsel.

According to details, the defamation suit states that Imran started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

Also read: President Alvi in Lahore to consult Imran over COAS appointment

​​​It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant widely circulated by media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety. The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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In his written statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him to stop pursuing the Panama Papers case.

Imran says that he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.





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Pakistan to send armed helicopter unit to UN peacekeeping mission

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UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan and Bangladesh will each be sending an armed helicopter unit to the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, which faces serious problems as several countries have withdrawn or announced plans to pull out their personnel, a UN spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said that India will supply a utility helicopter unit to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, and all three are expected to be deployed by March next year.

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“These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” the spokesman told reporters at the regular noon briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The UN continues to discuss with member states the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements” of withdrawals, he said.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA has 17,622 personnel helping the Malian government combat terrorists operating in the country.

MINUSMA is one of the deadliest operations having claimed the lives of 292 peacekeepers.

France completed its withdrawal earlier this year and it was followed by Egypt in August.

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Germany said that it was withdrawing its personnel, who numbered 595 in the latest UN roster, from MINUSMA by May next year.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Britain is also pulling out its 249 personnel.

Ivory Coast also said that it would discontinue the participation of its personnel, who numbered 898, in MINUSMA when the current deployment ends because of a separate dispute with the Mali government over the arrest of its soldiers who went there on a mission unconnected to the UN.

Despite the dangerous nature of the Minusma, Pakistani military doctors serving in Mopti, a town in the fifth administrative region of Mali. have continued to serve, earning praise for their work. They operate a state-of-the-art hospital staffed with 75 medical personnel, including 10 women and 65 men, according to the UN.

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The hospital operates 24 hours a day, every day, and they are always on alert. All specialities are covered, from pharmacy to gynaecology. However, its main purpose is to perform life-saving and urgent surgery when peacekeepers are injured, it was pointed out.





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Imran urges ‘all Pakistanis to participate’ in PTI long march

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Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistanis to participate in his party’s much-hyped long march on Saturday (Nov26) in what appears to be his final showdown with the incumbent government to force it to announce early election date.

“Dear Pakistanis, I want all of you to participate in our haqeeqi long march in Pindi at 1pm on Saturday,” he said in a short video statement.

Imran, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in April, said that only a nation which has justice in it will get real freedom. “When there is justice, there are rights. When there are rights, a nation is free. Only an independent nation is prosperous,” he went on to say.

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Read more: Interior ministry warns PTI of threats, urges postponing Pindi march

The former premier said that the nation will not stay silent until it gets real freedom. “I am coming for you despite my [health] condition and all of you need to come to Pindi for me,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Asad Umar presided over a meeting regarding the party’s preparation for the long march in Rawalpindi. Senior PTI leadership including Umar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, Ali Nawaz and others participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the overall preparations for the long march in Rawalpindi. The security plan, long march route and other significant matters came under discussion during the meeting.

The meeting was briefed that a caravan had left from Karachi for Rawalpindi whereas two others were ready to begin their journey to the garrison city from Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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A briefing was also given in the meeting regarding the accommodation of the participants.

Issues regarding the provision of all basic needs including food and accommodation to the participants of the march were also discussed in the meeting.

“The nation is fully united and eager to achieve real freedom,” Umar said, adding that the party would welcome caravans from all over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

“The captain [Imran Khan] will lead the ocean of people in Rawalpindi on November 26,” he further said.





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