Scandalising judges unprofessional, unconstitutional: Justice Umar Ata

| Says public institutions be empowered to effectively perform their role under Constitution | Court will be keen to engender initiatives whenever its backing is required | Judiciary ensuring dispensation of justice despite all odds: Outgoing CJP Gulzar

ISLAMABAD   -  Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed Tuesday said that the apex court decided 27,426 cases against the institution of 38,680 cases during his tenure as the CJP.

Justice Gulzar stated this while addressing the Full Court reference held on the eve of his retirement upon attaining the age of superannuation. Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Hafeez-ur-Rehman Chaudhry and President Supreme Court Bar Association Ahsan Bhoon also addressed on the occasion.

The Chief Justice said that the judges of this court, despite all odds and risk to their health, ensured that dispensation of justice is continued and disputes of the people are resolved. This was not an easy thing to do, looking at the circumstances prevailing, where shut-downs were constantly being imposed. The Court has navigated from difficult times, but the current scenario shows that it is still not over.

He added that the hearing of cases was already being conducted through video-link from all Branch Registries of the Court, i.e., from Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. On account of the pandemic of COVID-19, this facility of hearing via video-link from Branch Registries was availed more and more to ensure that the litigants and lawyers are saved from travelling from their stations all the way to Islamabad.

The CJP stated that the process of appointments in District Judiciary was expedited and he was informed that substantial appointments have already been made. Appointments were made on vacant positions in the High Courts and 3 Judges were also appointed in this Court. History was made by appointment of first female Justice in the Supreme Court by appointment of Justice Ayesha A. Malik.

The outgoing Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed in his address thanked the judges and lawyers for extending support. He said, “I am really indebted and grateful to my brother judges for their valuable support, sharing of experience and enlightenment in dealing with the affairs and administration of the Court.”

Justice Umar Ata Bandial in his address said that the federal and provincial governments need to take steps for increasing revenue generation by expanding the tax base, and empowering statutory and public institutions to effectively perform their role under the Constitution and the law.

“Pakistan suffers from a mushrooming population which in turn has left it vulnerable to social and economic pressures that are typically faced by similarly situated countries. These include poor health and education facilities, low productivity, unskilled labour, unemployment and therefore poverty,” he said.

He further said that to tackle the myriad problems facing Pakistan, all concerned stakeholders need to come together to address the alarming rate of population growth.

Justice Bandial said that other steps to be taken by the federal and provincial governments to overcome the challenges facing Pakistan include creating state-of-the-art vocational training institutes to impart skills-based learning to the youth, increasing revenue generation by expanding the tax base, and empowering statutory and public institutions to effectively perform their role under the Constitution and the law.

He continued that these matters concern the essence of fundamental rights of the bulk of our population. Therefore, the Court would be keen to engender initiatives in these areas whenever its backing is required.

In the backdrop of criticism of judges after the announcement of Supreme Court on Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s petition, he said, “All of us have deep respect and regard for each other. The differences in our opinions in matters of law arise from our individual perceptions.”

He maintained, “This diversity brings richness to our understanding. That is how yesterday’s minority view may become tomorrow’s majority judgment. But we are surprised that some observers who discharge a noble duty as watchful media, particularly members of the social media, take it upon themselves to scandalise judges rather than focusing on the criticism of their judgments.”

He stated that such conduct is unprofessional and uncivilised quite apart from being unconstitutional. Please understand that something has to be done about it. We will have to ask the Bar to help before we act in the matter.

AGP Khalid said that the Supreme Court with the Bar is the true custodian of Constitution of which federalism, independence of judiciary and parliamentary form of government are essential features. He said; “There can be no independence without accountability and accountability without independence.”

The attorney general referring to the events of November 2007 said that neither the perpetrator nor the victims had imagined that this constitutional subversion would not only be reversed but the perpetrator would be in the dock and on the run. He said this happened because there many people of sterling character both on the bench and the bar who refused to surrender to raw force.

He said that Article 184(3) of Constitution was meant to be inquisitorial jurisdiction. Such exercise only looks to the class of victims whose fundamental rights were being violated and provide relief without any adverse findings against any other person. Yet along the way this power morphed into adversarial jurisdiction which led this Court to areas not amenable to the judicial resolution.

The president SCBA and the vice-chairman PBC demanded that the amendment should be made in the Supreme Court Rules for providing appeals in the cases decided under Article 184(3) of constitution.

They said that the petition against the permanent disqualification under Article 62(1(f) should be heard by a larger bench.

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