The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) said they accept the decision. What does it mean? Do they have any other choice? How? Please explain.

Speaker of the parliament refuses to disqualify PM.

Earlier, the PM refused to open the corruption cases against the president.

How is it possible to refuse the order of a federal court? What can happen in UK or India in similar cases? Please explain.

What happens if a Government refuses Supreme Court order?

  • 1
    The Shah Bano case in India led the Indian govt to enact a legislation which countermanded the Supreme Courts order. – user833 Jun 26 '12 at 10:00

First Part:

In general, all affected parties have a choice of appealing a decision made by a court. From linked article:

If, as expected, the PPP and its partners decide not to challenge the court’s judgment, they will have to build a consensus around a new PM. (Emphasis Mine)

There are always other options available to legislature. They can pass a law which retrospectively changes the legality of the court's decision. (i.e. If Gilani was convicted of crime X, and court says this means he cannot be Prime Minister, the government can pass a legislation that allows even persons convicted of crime X to be a PM.) One particularly famous example of this happened in India in 2006, when several Members of Parliament were forced to resign (and some were disqualified) because of a law barring them from holding an "office of profit". The government brought in an act to change the law, that too retrospectively from 1959 onwards, so that the disqualifications were invalidated. See this and this.

More extreme measures are also possible, like declaration of emergency, etc.

Second Part:

This requires some definition of terms. In some ways, the Court is part of the government. However, more clearer terms to be used are Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. These are the three branches which provide the Separation of Power in the Commonwealth systems. The legislature are the state and national assemblies, which make the law. The executive is the branch that implements the law. The Judiciary is the branch that monitors and arbitrates the implementation of the law. In your question, the term government roughly translates to the Executive (i.e the PM, Ministers, bureaucrats etc.) When the Judiciary makes a decision, it has the weight of a law, and none of the three branches can operate in opposition to the law. Thus legally, all court decisions have to be followed. Since the PM is not following a court decision, he is acting illegally and can face action because of it. In this case, the Supreme Court has chosen to decide that it can remove a PM from office for contempt of court. Whether it has the power to do so, I do not know.

  • 1
    Interesting. There is no appealing a Supreme Court judgement in the USA. We don't have a parliamentary system though. The best we can do is wait a generation or so and see if they feel differently. – T.E.D. Jun 23 '12 at 22:26
  • 1
    @T.E.D. Are all the verdicts by the full bench? In India at least, it's common to have verdicts by 1-3 judges which can be appealed to benches with more judges. – apoorv020 Jun 23 '12 at 23:46
  • I believe our lower Federal District courts serve that purpose. If the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) takes up an issue, it is the whole court, and their rulings are essentially final. – T.E.D. Jun 26 '12 at 14:20

In the USA (which does not use the parlimentary system), the Supreme Court's rulings are pretty much final. However, if the ruling requires enforcement by one of the other two branches of government (eg: it isn't purely about court issues), sometimes they will refuse to enforce it, making the ruling pretty much moot.

The most famous example of this was what happened with the Worcester v. Georgia ruling during president Andrew Jackson's term. The court ruled that state laws dealing with Indian tribes (or any other soveriegn nation) were invalid. Andrew Jackson's response was supposedly "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!"

  • 2
    The case is from the beginning of 19th century but you present it so as if it was from now. Is it possible now in the USA? – Anixx Jun 26 '12 at 0:01
  • 1
    @Anixx - I said "most famous" becuse this is the precident that is always cited when the issue comes up. The SCOTUS can strike down laws all it wants, but it has no real way (other than persuasion) to force the rest of the other branches of the government to actively do anything they don't want to do. (iow: pass new laws for the Legislative branch or enforce existing ones for the Executive branch). – T.E.D. Jun 26 '12 at 14:09

Since the mid to late 1990s Australia has been going through a slow running constitutional debate between the High Court of Australia and the Government in the Federal Parliament. The Government seeks to make laws contravening its obligation under international law to protect refugees. (In Australia, Federal Parliament is bound by its international treaty obligations). The matter comes before the Federal Court system as detained individuals seek relief from law. What happens next is quite interesting.

The Federal Courts, as supported in appeal by HCA give a ruling that relief should be provided. Parliament then changes the law slightly and continues to detain people.

Parliament subsequently changed the law to remove the Federal Court step, with all such cases going directly to HCA, increasing HCA's case load.

HCA then makes snide comments in its ruling.

Government then goes to the media about "unrepresentative swill."

This pressure has been more or less continuous since the Howard Government's affirmation of the Keating Government's mandatory detention policy for people seeking refugee status; and, has continued under Rudd and Gillard.

Quite simply, the Government refuses to be bound by the spirit of its International treaty obligations, and continuously makes law or regulation or direct instruction to government servants, that is later found to be illegal.

So one answer is that nothing happens if the Government refuses to be bound by the final court in a Parliamentary system.


In 1993 in Russia the President Boris Yeltsin disagreed with the Supreme Council over appointment of prime minister. He wanted to appoint the extremely unpopular Yegor Gaidar which the Council did not want to approve.

He then ordered the dissolution of the parliament to do which he had no right. The supreme court decided that he violated the Constitution and as such, according the constitution he should be automatically suspended as President with all power going to the vice-President Rutskoy who sided with the parliament.

But Yeltsin was strongly supported by the USA, by the military and by the media. He ordered tanks to fire at the building of Supreme Council due to which about 500 people died.

He then adopted a law that guaranteed him that he will not be held responsible for any crimes he committed in office even after retirement.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy