Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, while hearing a presidential reference seeking its interpretation of Article 63-A on Monday, questioned why the Supreme Court should deal with political matters when its decisions are criticised at gatherings of "10 to 15,000 people".
The chief justice's comments come days after recently ousted prime minister Imran Khan publicly asked the judiciary to explain why it felt the need to open its doors at midnight on April 9, hours before he was ousted from the Prime Minister's Office via a successful no-confidence motion against him in the National Assembly.
With the deadline set by the Supreme Court to hold voting on the no-trust move fast approaching after a marathon NA session, the apex court and the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had opened their doors beyond their notified timings. The vote was eventually held and saw Khan voted out from the top office.
In what was his first public address since losing his government, Khan directly addressed the judiciary, and asked: "My dear judges, my judiciary, I have spent time in jail because of your freedom because I dream that one day the judiciary would stand with the weak people of the society, and not the powerful.
"I ask you, what crime had I exactly committed that you opened up the courts at midnight?" The PTI chairman repeated the question at his Karachi rally as well on Saturday.
The chief justice, without naming anyone in particular, said today that the apex court should be respected. "The court fulfills its constitutional responsibilities. National leaders should defend court decisions.
"We are cursed for doing our jobs and protecting the Constitution. Why should the court get involved in your political matters?" he said while addressing Islamabad Advocate General Niazullah Khan Niazi.
"Protecting the Constitution is our responsibility. We will fulfill our responsibilities," Justice Bandial added.
"The court works 24 hours. No one has the need to raise a finger on the court proceedings," he remarked.
He made the remarks during the hearing of the reference filed by the PTI government before its ouster. Headed by CJP Bandial, a five-member bench including Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail is hearing the reference.