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Former Pakistan Supreme Court judge challenging new bench as unconstitutional

[JURIST] The retired Supreme Court of Pakistan judge who unsuccessfully challenged General Pervez Musharraf in his recent bid for legislative re-election as president of Pakistan is bringing an application before the current high court challenging its constitutional status to rule on the pending case concerning Musharraf's eligibility for re-election [JURIST report] while still Army chief of staff. Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmad [Wikipedia profile] left the court in 1999 after refusing to swear an oath under the Provisional Constitution Order imposed when Musharraf initially seized power in a military coup. He originally filed his application over the weekend, but it was rejected by the new Supreme Court registrar as "non-maintainable". Ahmad insists it will be reintroduced, however. Pakistani legal experts cited by Pakistan's News daily say that the application cannot be preemptively rejected and requires a court ruling. According to the petition quoted by the News, Ahmad contends that that the new Supreme Court bench staffed by judges who have sworn oaths under Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) [text] “is in no legal position to rehear the case, as the Constitution doesn’t recognise it” and argues in the alternative that "If this court has the same legal status [as its predecessor led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry], no more arguments are required as the SC bench has already heard the parties and completed the process up to Nov 3, 2007.”

Admad told the News:

exposing the existing judiciary is important. We might be losing something by not pursuing the case, that is, throwing away an opportunity to expose the black sheep amongst us, but we will be losing all if we plead the case before these judges who have no legal and constitutional status.
The politics of Admad's application are not clear-cut, however, as some critics of emergency rule would actually prefer to have the new high court rule on the eligibility case in favor of Musharraf as now anticipated, hoping that that will make its bias transparent and completely undermine any appearance of legitimacy. The News has more.

The reconstituted court has meanwhile adjourned further arguments in the case [APP report] until Friday.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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