Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa on Wednesday responding to remarks by Prime Minister Imran Khan regarding the judiciary, said it was the government that allowed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for medical treatment.
He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a mobile app, call centre, complete video link facility in five courtrooms of the Supreme Court, research centre and an enhanced website to facilitate litigants and lawyers.
“Do not taunt us regarding the powerful,” the chief justice said, adding that everyone is equal before the law. He said the permission to go abroad was granted to Nawaz by the prime minister and the Lahore High Court had only set the modalities.
While speaking at a ceremony in Havelian on Monday, Prime Minister Imran had asked Chief Justice Khosa and puisne judge of the Supreme Court Justice Gulzar Ahmed to come forward and restore public confidence in the judiciary.
“Whatever social segments criticise our judges should be a little cautious because they (judges) are working hard day and night,” Chief Justice Khosa said. “Encourage them rather than criticising them.” He urged PM Imran to refrain from statements alluding to the judiciary’s powers. “The prime minister is the elected chief executive. We respect his position but no one should taunt us about powerful people,” said CJP Khosa.
He said the only powerful element in the eyes of the judiciary is the law and not any individual. “I don’t want to comment on the particular case the respected prime minister referred to, but he would know that he himself gave the permission for someone to go abroad. The debate in the high court was on the modalities,” the top judge said, referring to the one-time permission granted to Nawaz to travel abroad.
“A silent revolution has come in our judiciary,” Justice Khosa said, while acknowledging that no institution is “perfect”. He added: “Do not compare us to the judiciary that existed before 2009; the judiciary after that year is different, independent. For us, no one is big, small or powerful.
“Do you not remember that we convicted a prime minister (Nawaz Sharif) and disqualified another prime minister (Yousuf Raza Gilani)?” Chief Justice Khosa said, and while raising both his fists in a similar fashion as done by former president Gen Pervez Musharraf on May 12, 2007, added: “The case concerning a chief of army staff is going to be decided soon.”
The chief Justice welcomed Prime Minister’s announcement that he would divert resources from other departments to the judiciary to improve its functioning. He said the judiciary was now feeling a dearth of resources and so the premier’s announcement is “very timely”.