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May 12, 2012

Justice Khosa is not alone in giving provoking views

Entertainment

WD
Web Desk
May 12, 2012

ISLAMABAD: While Justice Asif Saeed Khosa’s additional poetic note with the detailed verdict against Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani shook the conscience of Pakistanis, it also caused pain to those who read it with a jaundiced eye.
Justice Khosa’s effort to show a mirror to the degenerating Pakistani society has been resented by the forces of status quo, textbook scholars of democracy and the champions of justice, as they think it hurt them.
Instead they have run riot with throwing allegations against the judge and even his jurisdiction as a judge is being questioned. No wonder if Justice Khosa’s efforts to engage the movers and shakers in an exercise of soul-searching backfire, like Khalil Gibran who also attempted to give a wakeup call to his countrymen decades ago, the end result will be like Lebanon.
The criticism of Justice Khosa’s note by PPP leaders could not have been a surprise had those who knew the precedents not joined the bandwagon. Expressing opinion on the issue by a sitting judge is not something without precedent.
Two other judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Jawad S Khwaja and Justice Ijaz Chaudhry also incorporated their additional notes to a verdict delivered by the full-court on National Reconciliation Order (NRO), revoking that black law.
The critics of the current lot of judges may argue that they share their perception and understanding when it comes to deal with the matters of public importance hence quoting examples from within the same house does not make any sense for them.
But such examples are not restricted to Pakistan. Recently, a sitting judge of the United States Supreme Court, Justice Stephen Breyer, has authored a book titled ‘Making Our Democracy Work: A judge’s view.’ As the book has called for judicial restraints, it can certainly provide fuel to the critics of judges who, they allege are stretching their jurisdictions and going beyond limits through taking suo moto notices. But when it comes

to the question of venting out opinion through additional notes or authoring a book, there is no difference of opinion.
One can also refer to a judge with totally opposite views to Justice Breyer. This example can also be borrowed from the West. Justice Lord Alfred Denning, a legendary judge of United Kingdom, is a classic example who, is touted as ‘people’s judge’. He is considered to be the most publicly known judge who, in his 38-year career, made numerous changes in the common law and also campaigned against the common law’s principle of precedents.
In the event of his death in 1999, Daily Telegraph wrote an obituary terming him ‘as a fearless champion of the rights of the common man’. The obituary further reads: “Whenever Denning was faced with a situation that seemed to him dishonest, unjust or wrong, all his ingenuity, and erudition would be directed to finding a remedy even if the wrongdoer appeared to have law on his side. This was particularly a case when some powerful institutions seemed to be oppressing to a smaller body or individual”.
The Sunday Times, in its obituary, termed Denning ‘radical, revolutionary’ and simultaneously ‘conventional, square and reactionary’.When Justice Khosa wrote an additional note, he struck on both grounds. Where he reminded the people of Pakistan about their religious duty to stand with righteousness and integrity, he also talks about social justice, universal norms.
Most of his critics could not read beyond his parody of ‘Pity the Nation’. Justice Khosa also clarified that he did not want to sink the nation into depression. One has to be mindful that Justice Khosa is not alien and is a part of the nation he was mourning about as he spoke about the collective moral introspection at a time when the country’s prime minister has been convicted for defying the law.