Undermining Judiciary

Rarely does a day pass in Pakistan that can be called a normal one. Additional attorney general Zahid F. Ebrahim tendering his resignation to the President of Pakistan Arif Alvi is a brave move and a genuine protest against the “reckless attempt to browbeat the judiciary.”

Mr Ebrahim’s resignation is a protest against the government’s attempts to undermine the reputation of judges who are otherwise known as judges with unimpeachable integrity show that the government does not want to work with an independent judiciary. Many people who know the honourable justice keep him in high regards for his integrity, honesty and competence.

Nevertheless, Under Article 209 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it is the President of Pakistan who may, upon the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council, remove a judge of a superior court. At the very outset, let the obvious be stated – the deciding authority on whether, after the recommendations of the SJC, a judge of the superior court should be removed or not is the President of Pakistan: not the Supreme Judicial Council.

That said, it would not be incorrect to state that if the deciding authority is the president of Pakistan, it is he whose doors ought to be knocked when an accused person is being condemned, and sentiments of hate are being fostered against him in the eyes of the public in the era of “accountability”. Hence, his writing to the president of Pakistan seeking a copy of the reference is not illegal.

The right to a fair trial includes the right to be aware of the allegations, in their entirety, against a person accused of misconduct. However, when such allegations are slyly conveyed to the general public in bits and pieces through social, electronic and print media, to foster sentiments of hate, they not only violate the right to a fair trial on the part of the government, they also leave the government open to judicial contempt.

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