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The Role of the Pakistani Federal Shariat Court

The criminal justice system of Pakistan had influences from the British. It was adopted in the 1946 by the British colonial rulers. This system of criminal justice is referred to as tailor made since they only adopted the ones that were providing and protecting their needs. It was in the year 1947 when Pakistan parted from India.1 This partition was later followed by a plunge into a Constitutional crisis in 1954. During this period, the Governor General dissolved the Constituent Assembly because he did not agree to the proposed constitution of that year. It is the Federal Court that validated the dissolution of the assembly. This new assembly followed the guidelines of the constitution of 1956 which lasted for only two years then the first President of Pakistan, Major-General Iskander Mirza, abrogated it. That same year, the president also dissolved the national and provincial legislatures and imposed Martial Law instead.2

The current constitution of Pakistan was adopted in the year 1973 after deliberation and consensus of all the political parties that existed in the country during that period. The influence of British model of law is still evident in Pakistan. The parliamentary that was first created by this constitution followed this model, whereby the elected Prime Minister is the central of executive power.3 Also, the same parliamentary model gives the president the head of state and the chief executive, just as the British model operates.

Moreover, the constitution of Pakistan gives the superior courts the right to complete the implementation of powers. These courts include the Supreme Court and the four provincial High Courts that were available at the time. In 1980, a president order established the Federal Shariat Court. His intentions were to validate a court that has a remit to examine any law of the country that might be deemed to repugnant to the ways of Islam. The court was to ensure all the laws of the country follows the teachings in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. Therefore, Pakistan is currently having three levels of courts, the Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court, and the High Courts.

The Federal Shariat Court is a unique institution that examines and ensures the observation of the Islamic ways of life. The court operates on a principle outlined in Chapter 3A of the 1973 constitution of Pakistan that says the sovereignty over the entire globe is for the Almighty Allah alone, and that other people of Pakistan that are exercising their authorities should observe the limits He has set in His holy Quran; the authority that people have is a sacred trust from Allah.4

The formation of the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan was incorporated in the law of the country. Chapter 3A 203C defines the formation and expectations out of this Court. 203C (1) gives the name “Federal Shariat Court”. 2013 (2) provides the guidelines of formation of the Court, stating that the court must not consist of more than eight Muslim.

Chapter 3A (section 203D) outlines the power, jurisdiction and function Court. According to subsection (1), the Court may examine and decide the question of whether or not any law or provision of law in the country is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam in accordance to the guidelines in the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet. However, this examination is done on the petition of a citizen of Pakistan, Federal Government, or a Provincial Government of the country.5

Therefore, the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan consists of eight Muslim judges including the Chief Justice of the Court. The President appoints the Chief Justice, alongside other judges of this Court. The jurisdiction of the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan includes:

  • The jurisdiction about un-Islamic laws-this is where the Court has the power to examine whether or not the law is against the injunctions of Islamic. The Court exercises this power relative to its motion or on petition of a citizen of the country, as it has been discussed earlier.

  • Jurisdiction of revision- under this jurisdiction, the Court can call for and examine record of any case which has been decided by other criminal courts; suspend the execution of any sentence; enhance the sentence of any case called for, and the Court can also release the accused over a case that has been decided by any Criminal Court in the country. However, exercising revision on cases is done according to the guidelines of Hudood enforcement.6

Also, the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan has the powers and procedures listed below.

  • Contempt of the Court-the Federal Shariat Court can punish its own contempt.

  • The Court has power to review its own decision or orders on cases.

  • The Court also has power to frame the rules of its own proceedings.

  • The opinion of an exempt for this Court can be obtained from the Islamic law.

  • The Court has power to summon and enforce the attendance of any citizen of Pakistan.

  • The Court can produce any document required during its proceedings. Also, it can issue commission of any document. Additionally, there is no court fee charged for petitions or application.

Amongst the petition cases that the Court has heard is the Malik Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri v the State. This case presents a hearing of terrorism issue filed in the Court following the murder of then the Governor of Punjab by armed terrorists who attacked him whilst he was from a restaurant in country. The narration of the incident was issued by the security guard of the deceased, who was also injured during the attack. The Court found that the murder of the Governor was pre-planned, cold blooded, and gruesome. All these descriptions are against the teachings of the Quran about morals in the society. According to the Court proceedings, it is against the Terrorism Act to use firearms and lethal weapons to commit murder. The ruling on this cases was referenced from the case laws Shafique Ahmed v The State 1997 PC.rLJ 1, Iftikhar Mehmood v Qaiser Iftikhar 2011 SCMR 1165, and Naveed v The State, amongst others.7

In conclusion, the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan is one of the most powerful courts in the country. However, it is unique in its responsibility of ensuring that other laws are implemented and enforced in line with the injunctions of Islam. The Court has special powers to call for, review, and decide cases that have been decided by any other Criminal Court in the country. It does so, following the rules and guidelines that are also made by it. Therefore, the role of Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan is to ensure that the Islamic ways of life and the teachings of the Holy Quran are observed while exercising authorities of other people in the country.

Works Cited

Ali, Sardar Hamza. “Analytical study of criminal justice system of Pakistan”. Journal of Political Studies, Vol. 22, No. (2015): Print.

Federal Government. “Shariat Decisions” (2012): Print.

Hussain, Faqir. “The Judicial System of Pakistan” (2015): Print.

USAID. “Pakistan rule of law assessment”. Final Report (2008): Print.

Federal Shariat Court. “Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan” (2016): Web. Retrieved from http://www.federalshariatcourt.gov.pk/

1 Ali Sardar, “An Analytical Study of Criminal Justice System of Pakistan” (2015) 22(1) Journal of Political Studies 17, 18.

2 USAID, Pakistan: Pakistan Rule of Law Assessment, Report (2008) 1.

3USAID, above n 2, 2

4 Federal Shariat Court, Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan, (2016) n.p.

5Hussain Faqir, ‘The Judicial System of Pakistan’ (4th edition, 2015), 24

6 Ibid, 25.

7 Federal Government National Law, Report No. 5 (2012) 362.