Failure to tame me prompted emergency.

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* Sacked CJP says confrontation with Musharraf regime started after Supreme Court verdict against government in Steel Mills case
* Says he was pressurised to change bench hearing Musharraf’s re-election case
* Emergency actions still illegal
* Hopes no assembly will validate emergency

RAWALPINDI: Sacked chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday disclosed the failure of former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf and his ‘cronies’ to tame him as the cause of the November 3, 2007 emergency that he hoped parliament would never validate.

Addressing the lawyers’ convention at the Rawalpindi District Bar Association, the sacked chief justice said he was approached by the previous regime to influence the independence of judiciary through incentives and threats to get decisions in the government’s favour. However, he said he remained steadfast and refused to accept the demands of the Musharraf government.

Steel mills: Chaudhry said the confrontation started after the Supreme Court gave its verdict against the government in the 2006 Steel Mills case, after which Musharraf conveyed his anger through then prime minister Shaukat Aziz. Musharraf then removed Chaudhry on March 9 last year.

After Chaudhry’s reinstatement in July 2007, the apex court was hearing important cases including those of the exiled leadership, the removal of 30 million voters from the electoral list, Musharraf’s holding of dual offices, and his contesting the presidential election in uniform. Chaudhry said the government had tried to influence him for favourable judgments. The case of Musharraf’s dual offices was dismissed on merit last September and the verdict was in the government’s favour. In the case of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s exile, the court issued contempt of court notices to government officials including Shaukat Aziz, as then foreign secretary Riaz Ahmed Khan submitted to the court that the former prime minister was sent back to Saudi Arabia on Aziz’s orders.

The court had fixed November 8, 2007 as the date of hearing.

Musharraf’s re-election: The sacked chief justice said he was pressurised to change the 11-member bench hearing Musharraf’s re-election case, or to influence two judges on it, which he refused.

“I had two choices – either to save myself as the chief justice or the independence of judiciary. I chose the latter. I could not sell the entire judiciary for personal gain,” he said.

November 3: Chaudhry said Musharraf alone was not responsible for the emergency actions of November 3 last year, which he said was practically a martial law targeting the judiciary and the media. He said Aziz and some others also shared the responsibility.

No valid reasons: Chaudhry said Musharraf imposed emergency in the country without any valid reasons, despite a restraining order by a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court. He said the two reasons given – deteriorating law and order and judicial activism – had no legal standing.

The sacked chief justice said maintaining law and order was the government’s responsibility, and the November 3 emergency order did not list even a single example of the court exceeding its limits.

Still illegal: He said the actions of November 3 last year were still illegal, as parliament had not validated it, adding he hoped the current assemblies would not do so either. Chaudhry said the declaration of emergency and the illegality of the Provisional Constitutional Order of November 3, 2007 would not affect the validity of the February 18 elections because they were held under the 1973 Constitution.

link: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008%5C11%5C04%5Cstory_4-11-2008_pg7_28

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