Pakistan’s Chief Justice Saqib Nisar Monday praised judges as “real lions” and said the court is observing patience over remarks against it, in an apparent reference to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who has been making anti-judiciary statements since his ouster last year.
Sharif, 68, is described as ‘Lion of Punjab’ by his supporters and the electoral symbol of his Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party is a lion.
“I don’t know any lion. These are the real lions,” Chief Justice Nisar, who was heading a three-member bench, said pointing towards the fellow judges.
“Respect should be shown (to us) equal to that given to elders,” he was quoted as saying by Geo TV.
The chief justice made the remarks while hearing the media commission case which is based on petitions filed by senior journalists Hamid Mir and Absar Alam in 2013 regarding issues faced by the media and the government’s use of ‘secret funds’ to influence media.
Chief Justice Nisar said that the court is displaying patience, explaining that anti-judiciary slogans were raised outside the apex court on Friday after the Article 62 verdict that ruled that persons disqualified under Article 62 can never contest elections again.
Article 62, which sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous), is the same provision under which Sharif was disqualified in July last in the Panama Papers case.
Referring to the judiciary’s critics, Chief Justice Nisar said that they take shelter behind women but if they had any honour they would appear in front themselves.
The chief justice also said that the Supreme Court wants to end the government’s control over the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and make the institution an independent one.
“There is no sword hanging over the government regarding this issue but this should be done,” Chief Justice Nisar said.
During the hearing, Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar informed the court that the government has formed a seven-member committee which will include journalists and the chairman of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association.
The committee will form a three-member panel to select an appropriate person as the head of PEMRA.
The chief justice observed that it will take a lot of time for this to get done but Waqar assured that the task will be completed within three weeks.
The court then formed a search committee to appoint the chairperson for the authority but replaced State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb with the information secretary, saying the minister must be busy giving statements.
Marriyum had sharply reacted to the apex court’s ruling on Friday.
“This joke has already been played on previous premiers and all 17 prime ministers of Pakistan have faced a similar fate,” she had said.
She had said that the court’s “decision is the result of a conspiracy by ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’.”
The hearing of the case was adjourned for two weeks.