So finally the Panama case’s decision is here. After a long wait of 57 days, and with a dissent of 3 to 2, the Supreme Court has finally decided to further probe Nawaz Sharif, while letting him live as Prime Minister. The decision that has already received critique from political circles was referred to as one that would be remembered for ages. While we are not sure whether it would stand up to its claim, our research desk decided to give history a shake. Here are some of the landmark decisions from Pakistan’s judicial history.
- Bhutto’s Trial
The infamous Bhutto’s trial till today is regarded as one of the most controversial decision of all time. Written on more than 1400 pages, the verdict saw the hanging of a former Prime Minister of Pakistan. It was on 6th of Feb, 1978 that the Supreme Court declared Bhutto guilty with a verdict of 4 to 3, upholding the initial Lahore High Court decision. The review appeals were rejected on 24th March, and Bhutto was sent to gallows on the 4th of April.
- Maulvi Tameezuddin Case
Believed to be the window to Pakistan’s unfortunate civil and military martial laws, the case was filed by Maulvi Tameezuddin, the President of Constituent Assembly, against the Federation. Tameezuddin who had succeeded Jinnah as President, had challenged the dissolution of assembly by the new Governor General Ghulam Mohammad in 1954. And though Maulvi Tameezuddin won the case in Central Court of Sindh, he lost the review petition in the Federal Court. Delivered by a majority of 4 to 1, the Federal Court of Pakistan went on legalizing the dissolution and hence starting a chapter of martial laws that still haunt the country. The then Chief Justice of Federal Court of Pakistan, Justice Munir is accused of colluding with the Federation.
- Yousuf Raza Gillani Case
Also known as the Swiss Case, this one comes from the recent past. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, probing the graft case against former head of the state, late Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari, had requested the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to reach out to Swiss authorities in writing. The stance taken by the government was, they could not initiate investigations against a sitting President (Zardari) as he was constitutionally protected and immune. A larger bench by a unanimous decision went on convicting the Prime Minister for contempt of court on 24th April, 2012. Pakistan for the first time saw a sitting Prime Minister appearing before the honorable court. The Prime Minister and hence his cabinet was disqualified on June 19, 2012.
- Begum Nusrat Bhutto Vs. Chief of Army Staff and Federation of Pakistan
Following the ousting of her husband, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977, by the Martial Law administrator, General Zia ul Haq, Begum Nusrat had moved to the Supreme Court challenging the martial law. The court went on dismissing the petition under the doctrine of necessity. It was observed that massive rigging during the recent elections had led to poor law and order and hence the actions taken by General Zia were legal. The decision is also known to have legitimized the longest martial law of the state.
- The Panama Case
Well, most of you won’t agree but yesterday’s decision will be regarded as a stepping stone in our judicial history. It is for the first time that a sitting Prime Minister has been asked to justify his assets in front of a joint investigation team. The commander-in-chief has been asked to clear the ambiguity in his accounts while providing for evidence of every single penny he or his direct family has ever owned or earned.
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