SC Declares Contempt Of Court Act 2012 Illegal
The Supreme Court struck down the Contempt of Court Act, 2012, after declaring it unconstitutional, void and non est, and ruled that the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 shall be revived with effect from
July 12, 2012.
On July 12, 2012, President Asif Ali Zardari had enacted the Contempt of Court Act, 2012, after the National Assembly passed it under Section 248(1), exempting all government office holders, including the prime minister and all other ministers,
from court proceedings under contempt charges.
A five-member bench of the apex court, led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Jawad S. Khwaja and Justice Tassadduq Hussain Jilani, announced the judgment on 27 identical petitions challenging the act.
"Contempt of Court Act 2012 has been promulgated under Clause 3 of Article 204, which confers power on the legislature to make law to regulate the exercise of power by courts, and not to incorporate any substantive provision or defences as it has been done in the proviso," the court ruled in its judgment.
The court observed that powers of the courts had been reduced by incorporating the expression 'by scandalising a judge in relation to his office' whereas in Article 204(2), the word 'court' has been used. Similarly, the definition provided by Section 3 runs contrary to the provisions of Article 63(1)(g) according to which, if a person has been convicted/sentenced for ridiculing the judiciary, he will be disqualified to hold a pubic office, and in Section 3 this expression has been omitted and instead of institution of judiciary, scandalisation of a judge has been confined in relation to his office.
The judgment ruled that Article 248(1) had not granted immunity to any public office holders mentioned therein from any criminal proceedings, therefore, by means of proviso (i) to Section 3, no immunity can be granted to the public office holders in violation of Article 25.