ISLAMABAD – The present-day judiciary has made a clean break from the illegalities associated with it in the past, and has struck down the unconstitutional acts and actions of a usurper, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry stated on Thursday.
“This new dawn of democracy – with governance based on the rule of law, wherein the Supreme Court was fully geared to enforce fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution - was only made possible by a bold and unprecedented stance taken by my brother judges in the wake of a patently unjust and unconstitutional order of a dictator,” he added.
Justice Chaudhry observed that there was no doubt that democratic values could only be strengthened if they ensured that “all the citizens had the access to basic entitlements guaranteed under the law”. He made it clear that the role of the judiciary was not that of an opposition to the other state organs, rather, it merely placed a check on the arbitrary exercise of power by any institution or functionary of the government or the executive. He noted that incidents of kidnapping for ransom, abduction, target killings, enforced disappearances, energy crisis, corruption and nepotism had crippled the socio-economic development and shattered the confidence of the public in state functionaries.
He urged the state institutions and civil society to join hands for achieving the common goal of transforming Pakistan into a true welfare state.
Pakistan Bar Council Vice-Chairman Syed Qalb-i-Hassan, Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir and the outgoing judge, Tariq Parvez also spoke on the occasion.
It may be mentioned here that some of the bar councils have not forwarded names of their representatives despite the various letters and reminders by the Judicial Commission office. Last month, the judicial commission held a meeting to consider the cases of confirmation of certain judges whose tenure as additional judges was nearing completion. But, the proceedings could not be held because the bar councils did not send the nominations, and the attorney general of Pakistan and the federal/provincial law ministers were also not present. In another meeting, neither any nominations were received from the PBC and the Punjab Bar Council, nor did the stated functionaries participate in that meeting.
In view of the urgency of the matter, the judicial commission by majority finalised the nominations and forwarded the same to the parliamentary committee for approval.
The non-participation by any of the members of the commission deprived this body of valuable input in selecting the best and brightest to adore the benches; therefore, all the stakeholders concerned are expected to fulfil their constitutional obligation in the public interest.
The chief justice said that after the retirement of Justice Parvez, there would be two vacancies in the apex court, while the high courts were already facing severe shortage of judges throughout the country, where additional appointments were required to be made to complete the strength of the benches.
Speaking on the occasion, outgoing judge Tariq Pervaiz said the allegations of biasness against the court in favor of any individual or a group or an institution had no grounds and were baseless. “The court with a pure intention and free of misrepresentation and deception, has undertaken to do justice, both corrective and distributive, through suo moto notices or the cases which were filed before it,” he said.
“I can assure you that the aim of every judgment delivered in the recent past has been to enforce the Constitution, protect democracy and guarantee the rights of the people of Pakistan enshrined in the Constitution,” Parvez said while adding it was the will of the people that they be governed by the Constitution and not by personalities and that the rule of law should prevail in the country.
Speaking on the occasion, the attorney general said, “Our constitutional history is replete with the instances of removal of judges by non-political forces, but sadly on July 31, 2009, for the first time in our judicial history a few judges were removed a large number of their own brethren.” He said 14 judges of the apex court sacked over 100 judges without hearing them led to a divide between the bench and the bar.
At the moment, there was an immense need to reunite the legal fraternity. Realising this need, the Supreme Court Bar Association as well as the Pakistan Bar Council adopted a unanimous resolution on December 27, last year taking exception to the judgment of July 31, 2009. The outgoing judge hoped that the divide in the legal fraternity would be brought to an end, if the bench seriously considered to revisit all such judgments, including the one handed down on July 31, 2009.
PBC Vice-Chairman Syed Qalb-i-Hassan urged the Supreme Court that the general perception of discriminatory dispensation of justice by the superior courts needed to be dispelled. He said the principal of non-discrimination, equality for all and equal access to the forums of justice was some of the fundamentals that needed to be adhered to.
The vice-chairman further said the bar had genuine interest in promoting the public interest litigation, but this form of litigation could not mostly remained confined to litigants from the legal profession and political personalities.