A tough judge

Justice Malik Muhammad Qayyum will be remembered for his strict, sometimes controversial, rulings

A tough judge


n Friday, February 17, Malik Muhammad Qayyum, a former judge of the Lahore High Court and a former attorney general of Pakistan, passed away in Lahore. He was 78. He was laid to rest at the Miani Sahib graveyard after funeral prayers were offered at Jamia Ashrafia, following the Friday congregation.

Qayyum was born on December 18, 1944. His father, Muhammad Akram, was also a celebrated lawyer, later judge, of the LHC. Qayyum began his legal career in 1964. Soon, he had earned respect both in the courtrooms and the bar. He was elected as the Lahore Bar Association secretary in 1970 and as its president in 1980. Before being appointed as a judge of the LHC in 1988, he had served as a deputy attorney general. He had also served as a member of the Punjab Local Election Commission.

Justice Qayyum shot to fame after conducting an investigation into match-fixing claims against the nation’s top cricketers in the late 1990s and slapping Test cricketers Saleem Malik and Ata-ur Rehman with lifelong bans. He was widely recognised by the cricketing community for leading a highly comprehensive investigation into match-fixing, and for writing the Qayyum Report. The report was published in May 2000 and resulted in lifetime bans for Malik and Rehman. Wasim Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul Haq, Akram Raza and Saeed Anwar were also fined and received warnings. This report was widely recognised as the first thorough investigation into instances of corruption in cricket. The investigation lasted a year, from September 1998 to September 1999, and took place in a courtroom at the Lahore High Court, where Justice Qayyum presided over 40 hearings and heard testimonies and received evidence from nearly 70 players, former players, cricket administrators, and former administrators.

At the same time, he was also hearing the case against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former president Asif Zardari, who had been charged with political corruption. Later, Qayyum represented former president, the late Gen Pervez Musharraf, during the judicial crisis in 2000s. He was appointed attorney general in 2007.

After news of his death became public, condolences poured in. Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi, the caretaker chief minister, and Sukkur High Court Bar Association president Qurban Milano were prominent among those expressing sorrow over his passing away.

Speaking to TNS, Dr Javed Akram, the caretaker health minister, said, “He was an exceptional brother not just to me but the entire world – irrespective of cast, creed, colour or religion. At his best, he was a legal genius who trained an entire generation of lawyers and judges. I personally miss him every minute. I hope he is in a much superior place than the world we are in. He dedicated his life to bringing relief to so many people. May he be blessed in the best of the heavens, and we all have the strength to overcome this terrible loss. Amen.” His nephew, Ahmed Pervaiz Malik, called his uncle “an extraordinary legal mind and a gifted human being.”

Justice Qayyum shot to fame after conducting a legal investigation into match-fixing claims against the nation’s top cricketers in the late 1990s and slapping Test cricketers Saleem Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman with lifelong bans. 

Ashtar Ausaf Ali, the former attorney general, said, “He was a legend in his own right. He was affable, smart, quick in understanding as well as delivery, and correct to the core. Justice Qayyum was undoubtedly a jurist of the highest order in this country. He encouraged young lawyers and got into the sense of justice in a case. If a lawyer was not well-prepared, he was ready to help; that is a great quality in a judge. He was a great and patient listener. He was also responsible for the success of many now recognised as senior lawyers. As juniors to him they had received encouragement and mentoring from him.”

Advocate Irfan Qadir, former attorney general and the special assistant to prime minister, said of Qayyum: “He was one of the best legal minds of his time; a great judge who was misunderstood by many owing to his remarkable disposal of diverse legal issues and his larger than life image. He had a natural flare for understanding the intricacies of law. He had great legal acumen. Unfortunately, he got into some controversies that led to his resignation from the superior judiciary. The ouster of such a capable and competent judge was a big loss to Pakistan’s judiciary. Malik Qayyum was also a great fighter. He fought his way through adversity and re-established himself in a new role as a successful lawyer and became president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and then the attorney general. His transition from a judge to a lawyer speaks volumes about his determination, tenacity and patience. Malik Muhammad Qayyum was a remarkable; an exceptional person. He was also a fine human being.”

Dr Ikramul Haq, the tax law expert, said, “Malik Muhammad Qayyum was undoubtedly one of the great judges and jurists Pakistan has produced - an excellent legal mind. He was quick to comprehend the cases and had an extraordinary ability for quick disposal. His expertise was not confined to any particular branch of law. He had a remarkable grip on all disciplines— from the constitution to civil laws and from tax to corporate matters. I pleaded many constitutional writ petitions related to tax matters before him and found him extremely competent.”

Justice Qayyum’s son, Barrister Ahmad Qayyum, is a former secretary of the Lahore High Court Bar Association and a member of the Punjab Bar Council.

The writer is a freelance journalist. She mostly writes on human rights, literature and lifestyle. Her debut novel, Our Tainted Souls is available all over Pakistan. She tweets at @MinaalMaan and can be reached at minaalmohsin @hotmail.com

A tough judge