HISTORY of our judiciary has been a walking track of the notorious doctrine of necessity. Many a time judiciary has legalized the ultra-vires but our judiciary is doing what has never done before. A sitting Prime Minister was sent packed, the Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif was disqualified by Islamabad High Court and Member of National Assembly Jahangir Tareen was also disqualified by the SC. These are the exceptional happenings in our judiciary. Apart from these judgments there is an extensive of use the suo motu U/A 184(3) of the constitution by the SC. Can we call it a Judicial Activism? Yes, this is a Judicial Activism. A couple of days back CJ Saqib Nisar grilled DIG Ghulam Mahmood Dogar to obtain “undue favour” from his son in law. CJ said how can you even think of approaching me through my family to take any favour? He even summoned his son in law in the court and grilled him while saying that why did you try to influence me when I am doing “Jihad” for the nation? These are things that our judiciary has never experienced before and we can safely say this that if CJ is not being swayed by his family member, we should be rest assured, that he is not going to be swayed by anyone at all. its been 13 years that the affected families of earthquake were left ignored. Money was plundered in the name of rehabilitation and development and the people of Balakot were not given any compensation. An application was filed in SC, and unexpectedly CJ during his court having decided to visit Balakot and he went there and he was welcomed by huge public along with a plethora of applications. He observed the affected area of Balakot and took the DG ERRA to the task and said “Athy kukh ve ni hoya” means there is no development at all over here. He summoned all the stakeholders in his court along with the record and reports. Things will be better for the affected area.
CJ took the notice of Rs 60 million losses in railway and summoned Federal Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and asked him to explain the losses. CJ grilled the Minister and directed him to submit the report of losses and the measures being taken to meet the losses at any cost. CJ also took the notice of clean water and for this he summoned the Chief Ministers of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab as well and directed them to present the report regarding the measures being taken by the provincial governments for the clean water and directed them to take all sort of measures to ensure the provision of clean water to the citizens. We can’t put a blind eye when the fundamental rights of the citizens are being violated, CJ said. CJ also started visiting the hospitals and grilled the concerned authorities for the bad health conditions in our hospitals. This has created a lot of apprehensions for the stakeholders regarding the health and under these apprehensions authorities are active and concerned to take all such measures to ensure better health conditions. Another notice that CJ took was about quacks in the whole country. He directed the authorities to take strict action against all such quacks and arrest them as well. Lahore was suffering from the barriers on the public roads and it has created a big nuisance for the public for their day to day movement in the city. CJ took notice and directed the authorities to remove all the barriers from the city and the task was completed in 24 hours and public felt relieved over it.
Many people are welcoming the use of suo motu by CJ however there is a lot of criticism over the excessive use of suo motu jurisdiction. Politicians are of the view that this judicial activism is not activism rather this is a judicial despotism. It has paralysed the whole executive to run its affairs. Nawaz Shareef said that the present judiciary is much worse than the military dictatorships. I feel as if a judicial martial law has been imposed. Similarly, Bilawal Bhutto said that CJ should focus on the judiciary first and then take notice of the failure of executive. The list of pendency of cases in court is too lengthy CJ should correct it first and then take the notice of the failures of Administration. Even the Provincial Bar Associations have resolved that the CJ is excessively using the suo motu jurisdiction and this has stopped the executive to perform its duties. A certain group in media is also criticising the CJ for taking suo motu on everything. They are of the view that even the initial days of dictatorships also look so appealing and public friendly but what they cause, they stop the institutional growth due to which democratic values suffer a lot. Apart from this criticism from different sections of society, the CJ is overwhelmingly being welcomed by the public. He is making speeches on media and his words and action are appealing the public at large. Wherever CJ goes people start gathering around him and start submitting their complaints.
These are the two perceptions that we see prevailing around. If we analyse the suo motu of CJ impartially, we can safely say that these suo motus have protected the fundamental rights of the people at large. Public suffers in the hands of bureaucracy and politicians primarily but due to this judicial activism they are both; bureaucracy and politicians, are afraid of any step that is ultra-vires and in the larger context, this gives relief to the public. Judiciary has created deterrence and this is not something which is beyond the limits of Constitution rather it is very much clear in the Artitcle:184(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan that “Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 199, the Supreme Court shall, if it considers that a question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights conferred by Chapter I Part II is involved have the power to make an order of the nature mentioned in the said Article”.
— The writer is Police Officer (UT), based in Lahore.