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Tuesday June 18, 2024

Judicial respect

PTI’s latest criticism is that livestreaming of SC proceedings wasn’t allowed on Thursday when PTI founding chairman Imran Khan appeared

By Editorial Board
May 18, 2024
The Supreme Court building in Islamabad. — SCP website/File
The Supreme Court building in Islamabad. — SCP website/File 

On Friday, the Supreme Court issued show-cause notices to independent Senator Faisal Vawda and MQM-P lawmaker Mustafa Kamal, summoning both leaders over their recent remarks regarding the judiciary. The notices were issued during the hearing of a suo-motu notice against Vawda over his remarks against Islamabad High Court judges. In a separate press conference, Kamal demanded the implementation of dual citizenship law in all the institutions. There were other pressers as well that criticized the judiciary, by members of the government. However, the judiciary is not just being criticized by the treasury members. In fact, the PTI has taken it upon itself to demonize Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa.

The PTI’s latest criticism is that livestreaming of SC proceedings wasn’t allowed on Thursday when PTI founding chairman Imran Khan appeared before the apex court via video link to present his arguments in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) amendments case. Observers have pointed out that Imran was given extraordinary favour by the court by allowing him to appear via video link from jail. They also point out that before CJP Isa, such livestreaming never took place and it was this chief justice who ensured that such transparency was observed for everyone to see. Qazi Faez Isa also agreed to Imran Khan being on video link for the NAB amendments case. What both sides that are busy criticizing the judiciary have forgotten in all of this are the judicial reforms that have taken place ever since Justice Qazi Faez Isa took charge. No chief justice in the past was willing to give up his dictatorial powers, yet this one did. Despite having disagreements with his fellow judges, CJP Isa does not bar those judges from sitting on the same benches. Essentially, political parties should stop dragging the judiciary into their political fights. It is good to see the judiciary being mature and dealing with cases on merit. Of course, verdicts can be criticized if they are not on merit or if the other party feels it is unfair but to demonize a chief justice or other judges because they don’t align with what you feel should be the judgment is wrong.

The political attacks on the judiciary, especially those aimed at individuals like CJP Isa who are striving to uphold judicial standards, are deeply concerning. Criticizing judicial decisions on their merits is acceptable and even necessary for a healthy democratic discourse. However, personal attacks and attempts to delegitimize judges based on their rulings are detrimental to rule of law. Political parties must refrain from dragging the judiciary into their conflicts and respect the separation of powers that underpins democratic governance. The continuous politicization of the judiciary threatens to erode this independence. The integrity and independence of the judiciary must be preserved at all costs. Political parties should cease their attempts to manipulate or malign judicial processes and instead focus on engaging with reforms that enhance transparency and fairness within the system. An independent judiciary, free from political coercion, is essential for upholding justice and maintaining public trust in rule of law. Let us support a judiciary that can operate without fear or favour, ensuring that justice is served impartially for all.