Pakistan Supreme Court annulled New Law Protecting the Prime Minister

04-Aug-2012

Supreme Court of Pakistan on 3 August 2012 annulled the new law called Contempt of Court Act 2012(COCA 2012) seeking to protect the Prime Minister from disqualification. A five-member bench of the Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry ruled that the new law is unconstitutional and void with effect from the day it was enforced.  The court found Section 2(a), Section 3, Section 4(4), Section 6(2&3), Section 8(1, 3 &5), Section 10(b), Section 11(3, 4 & 5), Section 12 and Section 13 of COCA 2012 as ultra vires the constitution of Pakistan.

The Court also noted that under Article 204 read with Entry 55 of the Fourth Schedule to the constitution, the high courts and the Supreme Court have powers to punish any person who is found guilty of contempt of court, falling within the definition of contempt of court given in Clause (2) of Article 204 of the constitution of Pakistan.

COCA 2012 was promulgated under Clause 3 of Article 204 of the constitution, which confers power on the legislature to make law to regulate the exercise of power by the Courts, and not to incorporate any substantive provision or defences as it has been done in the proviso.

The court ruling said that powers of the courts were reduced by incorporating expression by scandalising a judge in relation to his office whereas in Article 204(2) the word court has been used. The court further observed that incorporation of Article 248(1) in proviso (i) to Section 3 is tantamount to amending the constitution, which could not be done without following the procedure given in in articles 238 and 239 of the constitution.