A day after Pakistan's powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani warned state institutions against exceeding their constitutional role, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry today asserted that the Supreme Court has the final jurisdiction over constitutional matters.
Chaudhry made the observation while a three-judge bench was hearing a petition seeking a bar on the media criticising the armed forces, intelligence agencies and other defence and security institutions.
Addressing a gathering of senior army officers yesterday, Kayani had said that no individual or institution had the "monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest".
The petitioner's lawyer, Raja Irshad, told the bench today that the army respects the court and has implemented all its orders.
Responding to this, the Chief Justice retorted: "Yes, we have witnessed it yesterday. Our position is very clear and no one should have any kind of doubts".
Chaudhry made it clear that the apex court has the final authority in deciding constitutional matters and there should be no two opinions on this issue.
Though Kayani did not explain the context of his remarks yesterday, they were widely seen as a riposte to the Supreme Court's recent order for action to be taken against former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and former Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief Lt Gen Asad Durrani for distribution millions of rupees to politicians to rig the 1990 general election.
"We all agree that strengthening the institutions, ensuring the rule of law and working within the well defined bounds of the Constitution is the right way forward," he had said.
SC Has Final Say Over Constitutional Matters: Pak CJ
Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
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