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Senate questions 'constitutional silence' on dual nationality judges

22 December, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Friday debated dual nationality and constitutional status of judges, and eligibility of the citizens of Pakistan having dual nationality for appointment in the judiciary.

PPP's Senator Farhatullah Babar presented a motion in the Senate for discussion "regarding eligibility of the citizens of Pakistan having dual nationality for appointment in the judiciary." According to the law, a dual national person cannot become a parliamentarian, cannot be appointed in defence services nor apply for CSS examination. "I don't say that any judge in the current judiciary has dual nationality, but a question arises why the law allows dual national in the judiciary while there is bar in other places."

Babar said judges have wide range of powers as compared to others. He said the government accepted the ruling of the judiciary by overturning the National Assembly speaker's ruling, and remove an elected prime minister. The National Assembly speaker also expressed serious reservations over the letters sent by the SC registrar. Another PPP senator, Saeed Ghani, said that law should be equal for all.

Babar Awan informed the House that according to the law there is no restriction on judges over dual nationality. The constitution allows tge president to appoint ad hoc judges if required, but such practice was opposed by other stakeholders. The constitution is totally silent over dual nationality and disqualification of judges, he maintained, adding that the government has to legislate where the constitution is totally silent.

JUI-F's Senator Hafiz Hamdullah was of the view that his party totally opposed dual nationality holders across the board. He asserted that the JUI-F will never support dual nationality law if presented in parliament. The law restricts dual nationals from becoming parliamentarians then why does it allow dual national judges, he asked.

Senior parliamentarians Raza Rabbani informed the House that constitution just mentions the condition "Citizenship of Pakistani" for the appointment of judges. However, there should a broad principle that any person who is drawing his/her salary from federal consolidated funds should not hold dual nationality, otherwise he/she should be disqualified. Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari said there is ambiguity on the issue and the law minister will clarify it sot that the issue could be resolved.

Meanwhile, MQM's Senator Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi on a call attention notice told the House that people were confronting hardship in getting CNG and had to wait for hours in queues to get the fuel. He regretted that the government had failed to resolve the price determination mechanism in the last 44 days. He regretted that the Ministry of Petroleum could not bring down levy on CNG sector like it did in fertiliser, domestic, and industrial sectors.

The government, particularly the Ministry of Petroleum, failed to give any guideline in this regard and the people are suffering. He urged the authorities concerned to devise a formula for determination of CNG prices as per the directive of the Supreme Court. Speaking on the occasion, Raza Rabbani said the country was in the grasp of cartels that are very strong. He asserted that there was strong cartelisation in the banking, sugar, oil, and fertiliser sectors and government had totally failed to break it.

There is a constitutional provision to break cartelisation and ensure provision of standard goods to the general people, Rabbani said. He claimed that the government had failed to meet its constitutional provisions. He said the CNG cartel was challenging the writ of the government.

"If terrorism cases can be registered against workers, why can they not be registered against CNG owners," Rabbani asked. Senate Chairman Nayyar Bukhari reprimanded Petroleum Adviser Dr Asim Hussain over his failure to resolve the CNG price issue. Bukhari said people had been waiting in long lines for fifty days and he (Dr Asim) had not been able to prepare the pricing formula.

He said the government, not judiciary, was responsible for determining the price of CNG. Meanwhile, Dr Hussain said the government was taking steps to ensure smooth supply of gas to industry and domestic consumers.

End.

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