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September 22, 2019

Authorities’ support to one man cannot stabilise country: Justice Faez Isa


September 22, 2019

KARACHI: The Supreme Court Judge, Justice Faez Isa, has said it is evident that whenever the institutions crossed legitimate boundaries, human rights were violated and the country destabilised.

While addressing a seminar at the IBA City Campus, Justice Faez Isa said if the democratic institutions would be subverted then the enemies would always take advantages of situations like that happened in 1971 and we could not do anything despite all authorities. He said strict censorship was imposed in media in Pakistan, adding that he knew how some TV channels could not be seen on cable networks.

The Supreme Court Judge said the cable operators are ordered not to telecast specific channels and if the fear is increased as much, the people are avoiding to reach judiciary to get their due rights. He said it is superficial to claim that the human rights are being provided if the media is blacked out.

Justice Faez Isa said free judiciary is needed as well as free media to stabilise the democratic institutions, adding that the government and public servants including himself, being paid by the taxpayers, should confine themselves within the constitution of the country. He said the government has no right to manipulate the media through advertisement policy and press them financially to gain support or to stop criticism.

The SC judge said the stay order on mobile phone taxes was wrong and caused Rs.100 billion loss to the national exchequer. He said the country could not progress if someone was being supported by the authorities because it is also evident that the country was being neglected when their interest is gone.

Jamal Khurshid adds: Senior Judge of the Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Saturday said that an independent judiciary and media were essential for strengthening democracy in the country.

Addressing a conference on law, judicial interventions and social change with special focus on labour law here at the IBA auditorium, Justice Qazi Faez Isa said that the Supreme Court and high courts ensured enforcement of fundamental rights of its citizens under Article 184(3) and Article 199(3) of the Constitution and no act or law could be made contrary to the fundamental rights. The conference was organized by the Rasheed Razvi Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

Justice Isa said that the people of the country got independence 72 years back on the basis of ideology without any war or by dint of armed force but only to convince the people of other ideology and converted the impossible into possible.

He said that the Constitution of the country ensures observance of principles of democracy and sovereignty of the country will be safeguarded if we follow the basic principles of democracy. Justice Isa said that superior courts have authority to restrain persons or institutions if they violate the fundamental rights of citizen.

He said that the Constitution is based on trichotomy of powers among the executive, legislature and judiciary and it must ensure that all state institutions exercise their powers within their constitutional framework. He said that it has been historically proven that whenever the state institutions exceed their domain, it not only suppresses the fundamental rights of citizens but weakens the country and such adventurism could cause breaking of the country. He said that we deprived half of the country due to imposition of martial law as democratic norms were ignored.

He said that the Objective Resolution emphasizes observance of principles of democracy as whenever voice of people is suppressed and democratic system weakened, the enemy takes advantage as it happened in 1971 wherein thousands of army personnel could not protect the country. He said that it is unfortunate that the Hamoodur Rehman Commission report could not be made public despite lapse of 47 years.

Regarding exercise of judicial powers on public interest issues, he said that the superior judiciary must ensure that judgments should be passed in accordance with the law and Constitution as it has been observed that judgments which were passed ignoring the law were not long lasting though they was passed keeping in view of public aspirations.

Justice Faez Isa took an exception over media censorship and said that Article 19 guarantees freedom of speech subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by the law. He said that the Article 19 protects positive criticism even on court decisions as it not only help to avoid further mistakes or errors on decisions but it will strengthen the people and the state.

Justice Isa said that loyalty to the state and obedience to the Constitution is responsibility of every citizen and any person who conspires to abrogate or subvert the Constitution shall be guilty of high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution. He said state functionaries including President, Prime Minister, judges and armed forces who took oath under the Constitution were paid salaries from citizens' taxes and it is our responsibility to uphold and obey the Constitution.

He said that we shall have to adhere to the Constitution if want to survive as an honorable nation and resist every person who wanted to act contrary to the Constitution.

Former SBCA President Rasheed A Razvi said that legal fraternity was performing its duties and several pro bono litigations have been filed in high court and the Supreme Court on several public importance issues, including land reforms, housing rights, right to food, living wages and healthcare to police brutality and mismanagement of health crises.

The participants of the conference later on discussed labour related issues, particularly with respect to occupational health and safety especially across South Asia with comparative global prospective and judicial interventions and social justice.

They emphasized need for effective labour laws to deal with the labour related issues as present laws applicable in the country were not sufficient to address the problems being faced by labourers.

Senior Indian counsel Colin Gonsalves said that the present Modi government had dismantled the trade union system, labour courts and tribunals and left the workers at the mercy of government appointed commissioner to decide the labour related disputes.

Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Hamid Khan said that judicial activism can be beneficial in exercise of social change. He said that the US courts issued landmark judgments on issue of slavery, right to abortion and other public importance.

Senior lawyer Faisal Siddiqui said that the judiciary could play an important role to ensure enforcement of fundamental rights to citizens in case the government fails to protect the rights of citizens. He said that the Supreme Court also issued judgments on blasphemy and forced conversion of religion, which will reduce the tendency of registration of false cases.

Ms Hiba Akbar gave presentation on labour conditions under CPEC and said that local labourers, working under CPEC contracts, were not paid as per the working agreements.Dr. Azeem Chaudhry, Shahid Bajwa, Raheel Kamran Sheikh, Miriam Neale, Karamat Ali, Dr. Maryam S Khan, Dr. Miriam Saage, Dr. Nausheen Anwar and Waqas Mir spoke on topics of counter-hegemonic approach to labour law, 18th amendment and labour laws, ensuring safe workplaces, state-led assault on labour rights in post colonial Pakistan and judicial interventions and activism.