WHAT PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN EXPECT OF THE CJ

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Zahid Malik

Monday, June 14, 2010 – With the passage of every day, functioning of the Supreme Court and observations in various important cases by the honourable Judges, particularly by the Chief Justice Mr. Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry have become focus of attention of the people of Pakistan who have pinned high hopes that the Apex Court headed by a sincere and brave judge would not only deliver justice but also set the direction of the country and its different institutions on the right path.

Not only that, according to my information, foreign diplomats in Islamabad too carefully analyze the remarks and judgments of the Supreme Court and then report to their respective Governments in their daily Situation Reports about the present state of affairs and what could happen in future in this all important South Asian country which has been turned into a frontlineState in war on terror and is facing rising key internal problems.

In Pakistan’s history, I would say, perhaps for the first time the court and particularly the Honourable Chief Justice’s personality has gained such a high degree of respect among the 173 million people that they now consider him as a saviour.

Since the day he was illegally deposed and he demonstrated the courage not to bow down to threats and pressures, having full faith that Allah Almighty would do justice to him, the CJ received all the support from the legal fraternity and the masses wherever he went and ultimately came back to the exalted chair with grace. It was apparently a “Mission impossible” but as a student of Holy Quran, I religiously believe, that those who put their destiny at the mercy of Allah Almighty get His justice sooner or later. Many instances have been given in verses of the Holy Quran where people on the right path faced many odds but ultimately succeeded in their missions and their opponents were eventually eliminated from the scene. Every Muslim has firm faith that after Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) no other Prophet would come. However, we believe that Allah the Almighty selects some people and tasks them to set the course of direction of a society on the right path whenever it goes off-course. The unbelievable return of the Chief Justice to the exalted seat once again is an indication that Divine hand is guiding him to fulfill his mission. He has become a bright star at the national horizon, who is destined to salvage the nation.

From his past record, there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the Honourable Chief Justice who has God gifted courage, unparalleled vision and par excellence qualities, is fully cognizant of the ills in the national institutions and is doing his best to treat them impartially. I am also sure that Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry is fully aware of the centrality of his personality and role to deliver justice without fear or favour with regard to the expectations of the people to put the country on the path of progress where the people, big or small, could enjoy equal rights and respect the rule of law and know that any wrongdoings would not escape from the eyes and hands of justice.

No doubt, there are concerns by some circles that view with skepticism the phenomenon of ‘judicial activism‘. There is no denying the fact that the Constitution clearly specifies the role and responsibilities of all pillars of the State and they should perform their functions while remaining strictly within the constitutional parameters and must not interfere in the working of others. However, we also must keep in mind that governance is a sacred trust of the people and there should be a foolproofand fail-proof mechanism of checks and balances to ensure that there is no improbity in the exercise of power and authority. There should be no interference if the system is functioning correctly and delivering but there has to be a system for redressal of grievances if this doesn’t happen. In a way, the Government and the nation of Pakistan should be thankful to the judiciary as it is helping in the realization of the cherished objective of good governance as enunciated by the founding father of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Incidentally, my viewpoint has been vindicated even by a prominent US analyst, who has advised the American Governmentto stand by forces of law in Pakistan. In an article in the influential newspaper of the US Congress “The Hill”, under the title: “Pakistan: Time for the United States to Choose”, Thomas Houlahan has pointed out that there was too much corruption in Pakistan and the Supreme Court was trying to keep the country away from collapsing.

In the views of top jurists, a strong and independent judiciary holds all citizens and officials accountable to the written law and thus is vital for the proper functioning of a democracy. First, the rule of law must be upheld. Second, governmental powers must be adequately separated so that they can check each other. Third, the judiciary must be strong and independent.

The law must be centered upon a concept of justice that emphasizes interpersonal adjudication. Not only must the substance of the law be the same for everyone, but also the procedures by which law is carried out must be the same. Special rules that take important officials outside the purview of the law cannot be tolerated, and the procedures of the law ought to be blind when looking at litigants.

An independent judiciary is one of the most important ways to separate power and uphold the rule of law. Three aspects of an independent judiciary are relevant to its success in upholding the law: procedures to enable independence; treatment of the judiciary as an independent body; and judicial conduct that accords with and bolsters its independence.

I am firmly persuaded that the salvation of the nation, the permanence of government of and by the people rests upon the independence and vigour of the judiciary. To stay the waves of popular feeling, to restrain the greedy hand of the many from filching from the few that which they have honestly acquired, and to protect in every man’s possession and enjoyment, be he rich or poor, that which he has, and to get the black spot removed from the face of the country as one of the most corrupt nations, a strong judiciary is the need of the hour and that every one is witnessing today.

However, as a newspaper Editor, having frequent interaction with different segments of the society, I would suggest two points for the gracious consideration of the Chief Justice:

First: There is a dire need for speedy dispensation of justice and the phenomenon that people are not getting justice and cases continue in courts for generations, should come to an end. He has already taken a number of steps in this direction including the enforcement of National Judicial Policy, nevertheless there is so far no visible change and improvement at the lower level of the judiciary. For the sake of speedy disposal of cases I would suggest that the courts should function in double shifts, the number of judges and court staff be increased and a time limit be set for final disposal of cases, thus assuring prompt and inexpensive justice.

Second: It is very important to point out that the rule of law has collapsed and in my view the Federation has become fragile, corruption has increased and this has been confirmed by Transparency International in its latest report. Therefore, there is a dire need that the Apex Court should set a mechanism so that the violators of law of the land are awarded exemplary punishment, national and strategic interests are not compromised in any manner and national institutions are pulled up to get out of slumber. Every one in the country must have a sense of feeling that there is an effective system of justice in place and they can without let or hindrance knock at the doors of courts any time to get relief for the excesses of criminals, corrupts and violators of law of the land.

In my view, CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry owes it to the nation and it is only he who can do this and if he does so he will surely go down in the history as a deliverer and a saviour, especially of the needy and the poor.

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