Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has said that the Supreme Court (SC) “does not have the authority to dictate the parliament on what matters to legislate on and how”.
The apex court, in its November 28 verdict, had allowed the federal government to grant a six-month extension to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, directing the government to legislate on the army chief’s tenure and extension during the said time.
Speaking to Voice of America (VOA), Fawad questioned the judiciary’s “authority to direct the parliament on legislative matters”. “The SC’s orders have a lot of legal defects and shortcomings. It almost eliminates Article 243.”
Article 243 of the constitution pertains to the command of armed forces — that the federal government should have their control.
“The SC cannot tell the parliament that ‘you can legislate on this but cannot legislate on that’ or ‘you can or cannot extend the duration’,” Fawad said, adding that in the constitutions of 1956 and 1962, the duration of the army chief’s tenure was ascertained.
“But after many debates and arguments, it was taken out of the constitution of 1973, and there was a reason for that because the parliament wanted the prime minister (PM) to be empowered.”
“If you assign a specific amount of term to the army chief then how would you remove him before the expiration of his term, if need be. Therefore, the SC’s verdict has a lot of flaws and it needs to be corrected.”
The minister maintained that the federal cabinet was awaiting the release of the detailed verdict of the apex court, after which the government would decide how to proceed forward. “The decision to file a review petition still has to be finalised,” he clarified.
When asked about the differences between the government and the opposition, and how they could hinder efforts aimed at the smooth passage of any legislation in the parliament, the Fawad said “all political players in the country were on the same page on the matter since the army chief was apolitical”.