ISLAMABAD: Addressing the ceremony to mark the beginning of the new judicial year 2012-13, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Monday that under the scheme of Constitution, the superior courts are empowered to interpret the law and adjudge upon the validity of acts of the executive and legislature on the touchstone of the Constitution.
He said that the judges were oath-bound to dispense justice freely and fairly to all and sundry and they were also required to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution of Pakistan. He said that the same obligation of protecting and defending the Constitution was cast on all other government/public office holders and elected office holders.
“This is to be discharged in the national interest by all the organs and institutions of the state earnestly and with complete sincerity,” the CJP said.
He said that the judiciary had a primary role in the justice delivery system. However, all the authorities and institutions, including executive and legislature, had to render auxiliary support and cooperation in the administration of justice and execution of the judicial process.
The chief justice said that the principle of trichotomy of powers embedded in the provisions of the Constitution aims at creating an atmosphere of harmony and collaboration among all the state institutions in order to achieve the goal of fair dispensation of justice.
He further said that the judiciary had been specifically invested with the power of judicial review in order to check arbitrary excesses and deviations for sustainable development of the justice system and securing the enforcement of fundamental rights of the people.
“I feel pride in mentioning that in the recent years, judiciary as the third pillar of the state has successfully emerged as a saviour and a protector of constitutional supremacy and fundamental rights,” the CJP said adding that judicial activism on the part of apex court has not only ameliorated the judicial system as a whole, but had also enhanced the public trust and confidence in the institution.
He said that adherence to the constitutional norms of equality before law and equal protection of law by the apex court in all its verdicts had curtailed the constitutional excesses of the state institutions and private individuals; and also curbed the social evils of corruption, kidnapping, abduction, forced disappearances, target killings, terrorism and violation of human rights to a great extent. However, the chief justice said that complete solution to these social evils was not possible without the active participation and coordination of all the stakeholders in the discharge of constitutional duties of maintaining peace and establishing the rule of law.
“These social evils need to be uprooted through a collaborative and conjunctive effort before they completely erode the social fabric,” the CJP said.
The chief justice said that the Constitution of Pakistan, in its very preamble, postulates that the principles of democracy, equality, freedom and social justice as enunciated by Islam shall be fully secured. “It is to this end that the Supreme Court of Pakistan, as the apex court of the country, has been striving in the discharge of its constitutional mandate,” the CJP said.
On this occasion, the chief justice appreciated the role of the bar in the administration of justice, which is the other wheel of the chariot of justice along with the bench in all matters, be it the decision of cases of the litigant public or the resolution of constitutional and legal issues of general public importance.
“A strong bar provides strength to the judiciary and enables it to make independent decisions,” the CJP said adding that members of the bar have wholeheartedly come forward in the discharge of their professional duties towards the court and their clients. He said that the disposal of large number of cases at every tier of the judicial hierarchy would not be possible without their coordination and cooperation.
Addressing the ceremony in the Supreme Court premises, Additional Attorney General Habib Ullah Shakir suggested that the superior judiciary should not pick up issues which bring judges into controversy and which even otherwise do not advance the cause of justice. He said that principles of recusal must be applied in line with the code of conduct of judges of the superior court and that too with uniformity. Even when there was no conflict of interest involved, the top law officer of the country was issued notice to explain his conduct but despite apparent conflict of interest, the judges never ventured to recuse themselves in some cases, he said adding that such an unequal treatment must be avoided because strict equiponderance is of immense importance for the establishment of rule of law in the country.
He further said that in order to save the precious time of the apex court, a proposed list of fixation of the cases be made available at least one month in advance.
Prior to filing of any petition in the apex court against the state, he said it should be made mandatory for every litigant to provide a copy in advance to the attorney general or the advocate general’s office so that presence of law officer before the court should be meaningful and he is in a position to provide proper assistance to the august court.
He further said that the judicial policy was initially considered a great achievement but unfortunately it yielded no fruitful result. “People of the country were expecting inexpensive and speedy justice after the formation of judicial policy but it did not happen,” he said adding that all out efforts should be made to provide inexpensive and expeditious justice to all and sundry.
He, on behalf of the attorney general’s office, however, assured the chief justice and judges of the apex court of his continued support and assistance so long the court adhered to the Constitution and the law in dispensing justice in the country.
Addressing on the occasion, Muhammad Yasin Azad, president Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), asked the apex court to consider the question of discouraging unnecessary and frivolous litigation. He said that until parliament considers this important aspect, the apex court may lay down rules and procedures to punish those who waste the precious time of the judiciary.
The SCBA president also shared the consensus of the bar on the recent appointment of judges which, he said, fell short of merit. He said that a judge must at least have three basic qualities of absolute integrity, knowledge of law and absence of prejudice.
He said that it was a recognised principle that independence of judiciary was maintained where practising lawyers are elevated to the bench. The lawyers, through their experience, have the ability to appreciate arguments and can appreciate many sides to the same problem, the SCBA president said adding that they are familiar with the practices and procedures functioning in superior court.
He said that if merit alone ceases to be a criteria, then every lawyer, irrespective of his or her competence, will aspire to be elevated to the bench. In fact, it is not merit that is any more the driving force for a young lawyer to reach the bench, but affiliations to the “right group” of lawyers and by giving false impressions to the members of the judiciary, Yasin Azad maintained.
The ceremony was attended by all the judges of the apex court, law officers of the country as well as advocate generals of all the provinces.
Online adds: Attaching importance to the Islamic values regarding dispensation of justice, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary said Islam commands to do Adal with everyone. “Doing Adal is something more than doing justice. It is doing justice with mercy and compassion. It is close to the fear of Allah Almighty,” he maintained.
He applauded the role of the bar as well as the litigant public in provision of speedy justice. He also appreciated the efforts of judges of the Supreme Court, the chief justices and judges of high courts and judges of the district judiciary as well as the support staff working with them for efficiently and competently executing the judicial policy.