ISLAMABAD: Justice Javed Iqbal in his parting speech at a full court reference of the Supreme Court on Thursday expressed the desire that there should be no confrontation between the judiciary and the executive. “If there is any such remote possibility, that could be eliminated if all the institutions perform their functions as per the mandate given by the Constitution, interpretation whereof squarely falls within the jurisdictional domain of the Supreme Court and this reality is to be accepted which would be in the interest of democratic system and a source of strength,” Justice Iqbal observed, saying the supremacy of parliament hardly needed any elaboration.
Legal observers are attaching great importance to Justice Iqbal’s speech, especially since it has come against the backdrop of a perceived tussle between the executive and the judiciary over the government’s ‘stubbornness’ in implementing the apex court’s orders in different cases.
Speaking at the full court reference organised in the Supreme Court to bid him farewell on attaining the age of superannuation, Justice Iqbal said he had no hesitation in saying; an independent judiciary was a known trait of any democratic system.
“The judges are expected to assert their role to protect the rights of individuals against arbitrariness, misuse of powers and abuse of authority,” he explained, saying that patience, courtesy and alertness of judges reposed confidence in the lawyers’ community and the litigants.
“The three organs of the state namely the legislature, the executive and the judiciary have (been) given a definite mandate and role to play in their respective sphere. Hence the question of any possibility of confrontation does not arise as the main object of the three pillars is the prosperity and welfare of the people of Pakistan by keeping the judicial and democratic norms alive. “This country has given us everything and in return we could not do much. It is high time that we must change our behaviour by giving priority to the national interest,” Justice Iqbal said.
Referring to the Abbottabad Commission which he is heading to probe the May 2 US raid, Justice Iqbal assured the audience that the task assigned to him would be accomplished in accordance with law and action would be taken and proceedings of the commission would be conducted in a manner that would add dignity to this court.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry emphasised that constitutionalism imposed certain restraints on arbitrary exercise of power by the legislative, executive as well as the judicial organs.
“Such checks facilitate in establishing good governance,” he observed. The chief justice explained that an independent and impartial judiciary played a key role in checking constitutional deviations by any institution.
“In democracies ‘the use of arbitrary power is considered anathema to the rule of law’ and under the democratic system, law is always supreme as against exercise of arbitrary or capricious authority by any institution or its functionary,” he said.
SCBA president Asma Jehangir expressed apprehensions that some members of the Abbottabad Commission were showing their true khaki colour and thus posing a challenge to the inquiry.
She held one of the verdicts of Justice Iqbal – delivered in the Justice Khurshid Anwar Bhinder case (PCO Judge case) – as contentious, emphasising that even the persons accused of the most heinous crimes were afforded the right to be heard and to defend their position.