Islamabad: A petition filed by fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri seeking reconstitution of the Pakistan's Election Commission was dismissed on February 13 by the Supreme Court following a heated exchange in the courtroom between him and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.
After three days of arguments that largely focussed on Qadri's dual nationality, a three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice said in a brief order that the cleric had failed to prove his eligibility to file such a petition.
The court said Qadri had failed to prove his stance and "good intentions". He further failed to prove that his fundamental rights had been affected by the current composition of the Election Commission, the bench said.
The bench said contempt proceedings could have been initiated against Qadri for using "derogatory language" against the judges but it was showing restraint and only issuing a warning to him.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice observed that more than 100 registered political parties, 342 elected members of the National Assembly and political parties that are not part of assemblies had no reservations about the composition of the Election Commission.
There was an angry exchange between Qadri, the head of the Minhaj-ul-Quran, and the judges after the Chief Justice repeatedly referred to the cleric's Canadian nationality and questioned his loyalty in light of the oath of allegiance he
had sworn to Queen Elizabeth.
Qadri responded by asking the Chief Justice about the oath he had taken to endorse former military ruler Pervez Musharraf's regime. Qadri also showed the bench a photo of Chaudhry being administered the oath by Musharraf. The Chief Justice remarked that Qadri should know that Musharraf was the President in 2005 and every judge is administered the oath by the President.
Angered by Qadri's remarks, the bench warned the cleric that the hearing of his petition could be adjourned indefinitely if he addressed the bench in a derogatory manner. The bench then asked Qadri, who was pleading his case, to step down from the rostrum.
The judges questioned the Attorney General regarding the eligibility of Qadri's petition. The Attorney General said even a dual national like Qadri had the right to file such a petition. A short while later, the bench dismissed Qadri's petition.
Qadri, who returned to Pakistan last year after living in Canada for seven years, has triggered a controversy by demanding sweeping electoral reforms. Both the ruling Pakistan People's Party and the main opposition PML-N have accused Qadri of acting at the behest of elements that want to delay the upcoming general election and prolong the term of a caretaker government.