Islamabad, Apr 25 : In what may come as a shock to those who took the Murree Declaration seriously and trusted the words of the top political leaders, viz PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, the PPP-led coalition government and the Presidency are reportedly preparing a scheme of things to have a 'tamed judiciary'.
The PML-N, the only party that fought the February 18 elections, on the plank of restoration of judiciary, including the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry, has also reportedly softened its stance for the sake of longevity of the coalition.
If those privy to the behind-the-scene developments are to be believed, the constitutional amendments being negotiated would clip the country's Chief Justice's authority to constitute benches besides restricting his discretionary power to take suo moto notice on public interest litigation cases.
All these proposed changes are Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry-specific and are in complete violation of the Murree Declaration signed by the two parties on March 9, 2007, The News quoted the sources as saying.
The PPP has made it clear that it would not restore the deposed judges unless the PML-N gives its nod to the proposed constitutional package. But it is shocking to learn that some of the top leaders in the PML-N too have become double-minded on the issue and are inclined to go for a compromise that would bring back the deposed judges but would make the superior judiciary weaker. "For the sake of the judges' restoration, we have to go along with this compromise to a certain extent," a PML-N leader said, adding that otherwise the party would have to quit the government.
Sources said that some of the PML-N leaders are prepared to fix the chief justice of Pakistan's tenure to five years, but the PPP, which was previously adamant to fix this tenure to three years, now insists on a four-year tenure.
The two parties - the PPP and the PML-N - had committed in the Murree Declaration, signed on March 9, 2008, that all the deposed judges would be restored to their Nov 2, 2007 situation, which would allow Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to continue till 2013.
Despite the signing of the Murree Declaration, the PPP remained ambiguous about its commitment whereas the PML-N has been consistent in its stance. However, since the last meeting between Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, some PML-N leaders have also been shifting from the party's clear stance and despite the fact that the Nawaz-league won their mandate on the sole promise of the restoration of the deposed judges.