The apex court, while adjourning the hearing on the constitutional petition filed against the appointments in the Gilgit-Baltistan judiciary, observed that the question of jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in matters relating to the region has already been decided.
In January 2019, the SC ruled that the powers of the top court also extend to G-B in a written order regarding the constitutional status of the region and the grant of fundamental rights to its citizens.
The order also states that no part of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan can be abolished or ameded without proper legislation.
A seven-judge larger bench, headed by then Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, had issued its verdict regarding a set of petitions challenging the Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009, as well as the right of the citizens of the area to be governed through their chosen representatives.
On Thursday, a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, heard the case. The bench remarked that it would hear the case in detail and decide.
The court disposed of the contempt of court proceedings against the registrar of the Gilgit-Baltistan supreme appellate court over non-appearance.
During the hearing, a reply to the show-cause notice issued to the registrar was submitted on which the court withdrew the notice expressing satisfaction.
Chief Justice Gulzar remarked that the registrar had contracted Covid due to which he could not appear.
Earlier, when the hearing began, the chief justice inquired whether the registrar had come or not. “Did he submit a reply?”
The petitioner’s counsel apprised the court that the registrar, in his reply, questioned the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
CJ Gulzar said, “The registrar, in his reply, stated that he was a victim of the coronavirus.”
The CJ remarked that two petitions have been received for the adjournment of the case, adding that the matter is within the jurisdiction of the court so everyone has to listen.
Petitioner’s counsel said that the people of G-B can approach the Supreme Court on public issues and important cases. “Such cases have been pending in the Supreme Court for many years.”
Justice Ijazul Ahsan said, “The constitutional question is the same in all cases and a decision can be taken only after listening to all.”
The CJ said, “When so many petitions are collected, it has to be looked into in detail.”
The Supreme Court does not even listen to the petitions of its employees as there is a relevant forum for all.
Petitioner’s counsel apprised the bench that the Supreme Court is a constitutional court while the courts of Gilgit-Baltistan are run through executive power.
The Chief Justice said that in this regard, “we have already given a verdict in the constitutional status case, [while] in the case under consideration, we will hear all the petitioners together”. The court adjourned the hearing for one month.