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Pakistan governing party seeks constitutional amendment on Supreme Court

[JURIST] Pakistan's governing Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) [party website] will propose an amendment to the country's 1973 Constitution [text] to restrict judicial and presidential power, Pakistan's News daily reported Tuesday. The proposed amendment would raise the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges, limit the term of the Chief Justice to four or five years, and make judges that approved or endorsed any unconstitutional action taken by the president liable for treason. The first two of these terms resemble mooted elements of the failed May 1 'agreement' on restoring judges [JURIST report] between the PPP and the its alliance party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) [party website. The amendment would also bar a president from seeking indemnity from the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] if he is accused of high treason for subverting the constitution. The PPP says it plans to introduce the amendment by the Assembly's June 10 budget session.

In order for the amendment to pass, it must receive the support of two-thirds of both the National Assembly and the Senate [official website]. Garnering that support for the measure may prove difficult as the PML-N pulled nine of its ministers out of the government last week to protest delays [JURIST report] in reinstating judges dismissed by President Pervez Musharraf last November after his declaration of emergency rule [PDF text; JURIST report]. JURIST's Pakistan correspondent suggests that the introduction of the amendment is being timed to coincide with a major June 10 demonstration [JURIST report] by lawyers to protest the judges' ouster. IANS has more.

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