Judiciary must work within its parameters

September 23,2019

KARACHI: Supreme Court senior judge Justice Maqbool Baqar Sunday said the judiciary must remain conscious of its limits to judicial and legal intervention in relation to political decisions by the...

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KARACHI: Supreme Court senior judge Justice Maqbool Baqar Sunday said the judiciary must remain conscious of its limits to judicial and legal intervention in relation to political decisions by the legislative and executive limbs and it should not step out of the prescribed parameters of exercise of its judicial powers.

He said this while addressing a conference on law, judicial interventions and social change with special focus on labour law at the IBA auditorium here.

The conference was organised by Rasheed Razvi Center for constitutional and human rights.

Justice Baqar said drawing parameters from judicial pronouncements or rules framing was absolutely necessary for exercising judicial powers so that their exercise was regulated and not left to the whims of any single individual.

He said it was only an independent judiciary that could hold the government to account for its actions, which were justiciable and may ensure due enforcement and compliance of the laws.

He said it was necessary that the judiciary should earn respect and confidence of the people, which required a great deal of openness and transparency.

He said the constitution provided for and guaranteed independence of the judiciary not as privilege to the judiciary in its own interest but for the reason that independence of the judiciary was imperative for the rule of law and was in interest of all those seeking and expecting justice.

He said judicial independence was also a pre-requisite for impartiality of judges and for ensuring equality before the law and the courts, for all and more so for the venerable and downtrodden.

Justice Baqar said the judiciary had to insulate itself against all inappropriate connections for maintaining and ensuring its independence.

He said judicial power and authority was the linchpin of the constitutional framework and was subject to rule of the law.

He said it was also imperative that appointment of judges be based on objective criteria so that people may have faith and confidence in such appointments and the appointees as well.

He said superior courts were the guardian and protectors of the Constitution and it was duty of the courts to ensure supremacy of the Constitution and protection of fundamental rights of the people and to prevent all, including individuals and groups and the state machinery from committing any excess, or transgressing their limits as prescribed by the law and to conduct themselves in accordance with the law.

He said judges needed to have a keen knowledge of the severe disparities and the vitality that underpinned the ground realities of the society, in which they were tasked to adjudicate.

He said judges could not afford to be blind residents of ivory towers and the elite institutions and they must be sensitive to the struggles of the common man and must be aware and attuned to the humans they were applying the law to.

Justice Baqar added that the judges must also be aware of the multiple layers of disadvantage that different sub-groups of the population were battling with and that the human element was extremely important for the judiciary to be relevant.

He observed that a people-oriented judicial system was also imperative for the stability and independence of the judiciary and for strengthening democracy.

He said the judiciary was still facing a heavy backlog and it had been suggested among other measures that the number of judges in the districts as well as higher judiciary be enhanced.

He called for making efforts for capacity building and improving the standard and quality of legal education which may include revision of curriculum.

Former senate chairman Raza Rabbani condemned the curbs on the media and said the government move to introduce media courts amounted to further pressurizing journalists. He said media tribunals will not be acceptable.

He regretted that unfortunately Parliament was totally redundant, as the state and the executive felt convenient to bypass Parliament and country was being run through the presidential ordinances.

He said people had witnessed in the past decades that Constitution was put in abeyance, and democracy was compromised while foreign, defence and economic policies were made by the dictators.

Former chief justice of Pakistan Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani said the United Nations had to be strengthened, the veto powers of the five permanent members of the Security Council had to be done away with, and the International Court of Justice had to have compulsory jurisdiction if ‘we want the world to be governed by the rule of law’.

He said thousands of Kashmiris had been abducted and as per New York Times the detainees had not been able to communicate with their families or meet with the lawyers.

Justice Jillani, who also served as a judge at the International Court of Justice, said the crimes against humanity in several African and Latin American countries went unpunished because of the absence of an effective international system of accountability.

He said the US, Russia, China, India and Israel and some other states had not ratified the Rome statute and yet its detractors may realise one day that impunity of the state officials could only be checked by such UN-sponsored courts.

Dr. Miriam Saage, Ineke Zeldenrust and Palwasha Shahab spoke on topics of changing the notion of responsibility in accordance with global realities, labor rights agreements across international supply chains and thinking law across the borders.

They emphasized the need for better and safe working conditions, effective labor laws and expeditious disposal of labor related cases.


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