“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair” The abovementioned extract from Charles Dickens magnum opus “A Tale of Two Cities” suggests an age of radical opposites taking place in Paris and London amidst the chaotic environment of the French Revolution. The phrase has momentous literary value as it contrasts and compares two extreme situations. Five years ago, Yousaf Raza Gillani, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, was convicted of contempt of court under Article 204(2) of the Constitution of Pakistan read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003. He was sentenced to imprisonment till rising of the court. Gillani’s ouster was not only welcomed but also widely celebrated by leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), moreover, its leadership also warned Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led government against nationwide agitation in case Apex Court’s decision was not enforced. Destiny is mysterious as well as terrible, people who celebrate on other’s misfortunes are often clutched by, the unpredictable and mercurial, goddess of fate; the goddess, either ruthlessly smashes them on the concrete walls of shame or throws them into dark dungeons of despair. Few days ago, Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the pretext that he failed to disclose his un-withdrawn receivables constituting assets from Capital FZE, UAE, in his nomination papers filed for the General Elections held in 2013. Both the disqualifications share certain similarities as they involve disqualification of a Prime Minister, matter of public importance, undisputed facts and issuance of declaration under the Article 184(3) of the Constitution. Nonetheless, still some profound distinctions exist between the two disqualifications, Gillani was disqualified under Article 63(1)(g) while Sharif under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, additionally Panama Papers verdict has also directed filing various references in the Accountability Courts against Sharif and his immediate family. Every individual has the right to fairly criticise a judgement of the court, however, this does not allow anyone to ridicule the judiciary and brand its judgements as a conspiracy against democracy, rule of law and civilian supremacy After Sharif’s ouster, PML-N leaders who had once admired judicial activism of the Apex court are now questioning the limits of Article 184(3) of the Constitution. Such erratic behaviour, apart from being irrational is also fundamentally averse to the legal principle of “approbate and reprobate” meaning thereby that one cannot blow hot and cold in the same breadth. After declaration of his disqualification, Gillani had gracefully accepted the decision. However, Sharif and his aides in complicity with their benefactors in print and electronic media have launched an awfully malicious and intensely obnoxious campaign against the judiciary. In addition, an exceedingly despicable social media crusade, full of abuses, derisions and caricatures, has been launched against the five-member Panama Papers bench. Every individual has the right to fairly criticise a judgment of the court, however, right to criticise by no stretch of imagination means that one can ridicule the judiciary and brand its judgement as a conspiracy against democracy, rule of law and civilian supremacy. Incontrovertibly, a vibrant and independent media makes the government more responsive, accountable and transparent. Unfortunately, over disqualification of Sharif some anchors are emulating the exact melodramatic approach of the PML-N leadership; pro-PML-N anchors are consistently sharing vituperative newsfeeds and salacious tweets explicitly humiliating and scandalising the wisdom of the bench. The same anchors who declared disqualification of Gillani as a victory of the rule of law, now, consider disqualification of Sharif as a Shakespearean tragedy even bigger in magnitude than the Lydia Earthquake. Media anchors who, during the PPP government, had eulogised the jurisprudence of judicial activism have now out of nowhere started preaching importance of the doctrine of judicial restraint. Ironically, the members of the media who rejoiced ouster of Gillani are now mourning expulsion of Sharif. Lawyers usually don’t agree with each other, both on statutory and constitutional interpretation, as a natural corollary, diverse legal views and opinions are bound to appear. Lawyers like Farogh Naseem have praised the legal reasoning behind Panama Papers verdict, while on the other side of the scale, many like Babar Sattar have fairly criticised it. However, a prominent lawyer and ex leader of the bar is consistently rendering very harsh comments against the verdict and the judiciary. Lawyers are officers of the court, they are expected to protect its dignity; such premeditated onslaughts on apex court by a senior member of the legal fraternity are highly inopportune. The respected bar leader needs to note that Sharif is not what Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was and no conspiracy was hatched to oust him. He has been disqualified for being dishonest and along with his family being prosecuted for possessing assets beyond known sources of income. Right before us is a tale of two disqualified prime ministers; for Sharif, it is still a season of light while for Gillani season of darkness started as soon as he was ousted. The judiciary, after ouster of Gillani, didn’t let any of contemptuous remarks to be aired on media. However, the judiciary is now even ignoring contemptuous explosions of PML-N leadership and its aides. Gillani’s son, a sitting MNA, was manhandled and arrested right in front of Supreme Court, however, Sharif and his family are still being treated like Mughal emperors. According to the policing plan, around 27,146 police officers are working in Lahore, out of them 10,000 including 16 SPs, 25 DSPs, 60 SHOs will be deployed when Sharif arrives in the city. I have read in criminal jurisprudence that an accused is the most favourite child of the law; however, I had never seen the principle implemented in letter and spirit until I saw preferential treatment being given to Sharif and his family. The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore Published in Daily Times, August 8th 2017.