State of Emergency 2007


General Pervez Musharraf, who used to hold the office of the President and Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan, on Saturday, Nov 3, 2007 declared a state of emergency and suspended the nation's constitution and parliament at the same time. According to the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan the President of Pakistan can impose a state of emergency in the country, if he believes that circumstances exist that warrant it and has to get it validated from a sitting Parliament within 30 days. However, the proclamation of state of emergency was announced, according to the proclamation, by him as the Chief of Army Staff and not the President of Pakistan, and as per legal scholars this is tantamount to martial law, as there is no provision present in the Constitution of Pakistan for an Army General to declare a state of emergency.

Further, according to the constitution, the state of emergency only suspends certain fundamental rights of citizens and all other structures and functions of the state remain functioning as normal, but through this proclamation the government had suspended the constitution itself and issued a provisional constitutional order (PCO) in its place. This action is not allowed by any provision of the constitution.

Arrest

After the imposition of emergency and suspension of the constitution, Chaudhry constituted an eight-member bench of Supreme Court judges duly headed by himself, and immediately quashed the provisional constitution order, declaration of emergency and the suspension of the constitution, and ordered all civil and military personnel to ignore the order. He also ordered all the chief justices of high courts and judges of the Supreme Court and High Court not to take oath under the PCO. Soon after, on November 3, the Supreme Court was stormed by the 111th brigade of the Pakistan Army and Chaudhry was arrested along with seven other judges. Musharraf replaced Justice Chaudhry with Abdul Hameed Dogar as the de facto chief justice of Pakistan and also administered the oath of office to three other judges of the supreme court under the PCO. Justice Dogar later took a fresh oath on the constitution after it was restored and the PCO has withdrawn.

Chaudhry's house was sealed and he was allowed limited visitors and no one met him officially until the new Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani ordered to uplift the house arrest on his first day of premiership. However, he continued to denounce Musharraf's declaration of emergency and vowed to push for a return to the rule of law.

On 15 November Geo News reported that Chaudhry had ordered the Islamabad Inspector General of Police to take action against his and his family’s house arrest and their possible removal to Quetta. According to the channel, Chaudhry held the interior secretary, the commissioner, the deputy commissioner and the assistant commissioner responsible for his house arrest. He said he was still the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the official residence was his by right.

On 18 November in a letter to prominent English-language newspaper The News he wrote: "I will fight till the last drop of my blood to save the Constitution of Pakistan and so will resist any move to deport me to some far-flung area with the intention to separate me from the lawyers and the Pakistani citizens". On February 2008, CJP Chaudhry wrote an open letter to President Musharraf from house arrest.