Iftikhar Chaudhry
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. — File photo/Online

ISLAMABAD: As Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry celebrates his 64th birthday on Wednesday (today), he faces the daunting task of clearing a backlog of 1.6 million cases both in the superior and the lower judiciary.

Elevated as the 20th Chief Justice of Pakistan in June 2005, he will be among the three most influential figures in the country to complete their tenures next year. He will doff his robes on this day next year.

First to go after completing his five-year tenure on Sept 8, 2013, will be President Asif Ali Zardari, followed by Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the last week of November.

The entire tenure of the chief justice has been tumultuous, beginning with his removal from office twice in 2007. He was first deposed by former president Pervez Musharraf in March of 2007 and a reference against him was filed with the Supreme Judicial Council.

The chief justice had to leave his office again and was held incommunicado in his official residence when Gen Musharraf declared emergency in November of 2007.

The CJP was eventually reinstated on March 22, 2009, following a massive public resentment and countrywide protest marches.

The last two years have proven to be rather bad for the judiciary as well. Its image was first blemished because of the memo scandal when allegations of collusion between the judiciary and the military were levelled.

And when the judiciary had barely recovered from the accusation, allegations of wrongdoing were hurled at Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, a son of the chief justice, by property tycoon Malik Riaz.

Although legal observers described the years with the chief justice at the highest echelon of the judiciary as eventful, they are pinning hopes on focus and improvement during the next year on the working of lower courts which are considered to be the real face of the judiciary.

A number of senior counsel approached by Dawn praised the initiatives of a series of public interest litigations (PIL) aimed at protecting social, economic and religious rights of the people, but at the same time they stressed the need for drastic enhancement in lower ranks of the judiciary.

“I hope the judicial system will see a marked change since the public at large has been affected,” said Tariq Mehmood, former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). He was of the opinion that much improvement was needed on the case management system at the level of the subordinate judiciary since the handling of family matters and cases on criminal as well as civil sides left much to be desired, adding that the sufferings of poor litigants had not been ameliorated.

“The excessive use of PIL, especially by invoking the suo motu jurisdiction, overshadows the normal litigation,” Mr Mehmood said and reminded that although PIL was meant to benefit ordinary citizens, early resolution of normal cases would also serve the same cause.

Realising the excessive use of PIL cases, the Pakistan Bar Council and the SCBA have adopted resolutions stressing the need for a law that provides a provision to challenge verdicts issued by the superior courts in suo motu cases.

“Courts cannot bring revolutions,” said Dr Muhammad Abdul Basit, the author of a book on law of contempt of the court, adding in a guarded language that a cautious exercise of the authority would be much appreciated.

The entire era was full of both positives and negativities, Dr Basit said. Although he appreciated the strong protective wall against corruption, he was against too much use of suo motu powers.

Advocate Waqar Rana called for focusing more on litigants’ problems and said the judiciary should mark the next year with a campaign to weed out corruption in its ranks and files at all levels.

He said people had pinned hopes on the judiciary after its restoration, but it had failed to come up to their expectations as the performance at the lowest tier of the judiciary remained a question mark.

Updated Dec 11, 2012 09:31pm

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Comments (54) (Closed)


syed
Dec 12, 2012 10:39pm
our wordly masters have added another player in the corrupt power game to weaken pakistan [same old tactics-divide and rule ]
Kamran Farooq
Dec 13, 2012 06:02am
He lets his own son off the hook even though there is a lot of evidence against him. he appoints his personal family friend as the investigator. this is a typical case of the pot calling the kettle black. good riddance!
observer
Dec 12, 2012 07:54am
CJP is a man of political correctness and popular sentiment. He would follow the popluar vibes when he began. He took oath with Musharraf because that was a politically correct and popular thing to do at the time. He revolted against the same Musharraf when Musharraf had lost his popularity. Now CJP defines what is popular. The way CJP has managed to ward off all criticism (from media, lawyers, etc.) and have half of the nation ignore what PPP and Parliament had to say against him is unprecedented. I hope the future judges learn from his later act of standing up to Musharraf. I also hope the future judges do not learn from him how to bow to a popular dictator's wishes.
Ram Lakhani
Dec 12, 2012 09:28pm
dont like learning....teaching they prefer! Read India SC....restraint and not going too far is good for all
kamran
Dec 12, 2012 09:20pm
and he has not done anything. he is equally blamed just as much as zardaris, sharifs and altafs.. all these years, he did not do one thing that has worked. One judgement for which he was brought by all those silly lawyers. what have they done other than taking pakistan towards the brink of breaking up. Musharraf probably was righT!
Adil Jadoon
Dec 15, 2012 05:26am
He should get an extension and you should be ashamed of your name and your prejudice.
raza
Dec 15, 2012 02:29pm
For God sake people; most of the following comments are coming from a certain group of people, much likely belong to the same group who never like the CJ, since he challenged their authority. It is a jungle in Pakistan, these people are not human beings, they are the beasts, they don't want anybody to guide their preys to steer away. How much a one person can do, he has done enough to raise the voice against the giants of corruption and powers.
Adil Jadoon
Dec 15, 2012 05:22am
What planet do you live on.
Adil Jadoon
Dec 15, 2012 05:23am
Or shall we remember the Justice of Chaudhry Ilahi with his son or Gillani with his son?????
Muhammad Asif
Dec 13, 2012 07:13am
He said people had pinned hopes on the judiciary after its restoration, but it had failed to come up to their expectations as the performance at the lowest tier of the judiciary remained a question mark Rightly said. he should have had spent most of his times establishing his own insitution on sound footings instead of intervening in the boundaries of others institutions.
Adil Jadoon
Dec 15, 2012 05:17am
And you say this because??????
observer
Dec 12, 2012 11:43am
I am not sure if restraint is the only lesson they need to learn. They need to learn to clean up their minds of personal and narrow prejudices too. Perhaps they also need some training in character and neutrality.
Asab
Dec 12, 2012 04:02pm
I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel.
sraz45
Dec 12, 2012 06:44am
The Pakistan Judiciary did not fall out of the sky, it is a reflection of its society. The back log and corruption are part and parcel of the society at large. Now that democracy has taken hold, it will work as a strainer to take out the fluff and dirt from the mix, but it is a slow process, we wasted 60 valuable years to get here, in the process losing a part of the country, it will take our educated masses to rectify the wrongs which has been done. Some will never see the glory days, yet what lies ahead is promising Nation building is an arduous task, it is a journey made easy by education hard work and perseverance. Pakistan has a bright future, it is just getting started. Pakistan zindabad !
Muhammad Asif
Dec 18, 2012 08:26am
The moderator should remove personal remarks (unless Adil Jadoon is part of moderating team).
Adil Jadoon
Dec 15, 2012 05:28am
There are people with different opinions everywhere. Saddam Hussain, Altaf Hussain, Zardari all have supporters and opponents. It all depends in what your personal objectives are.
Adil Jadoon
Dec 15, 2012 05:30am
Chief Justice Zindabad, Pakistan Paindabad
ali
Dec 12, 2012 02:38pm
The CJ needs an extension so that he can clean up the horrible mess that has been left over by subsequent governments, he also has to correct the lower courts and make the lawmakers including the president pay taxes. The next CJ must also be a strong and fearless man.
Adil Jadoon
Dec 15, 2012 05:15am
A dictator can never be right.
Proud_Nonmuslim@gmail.com
Dec 13, 2012 01:59am
Are you joking?? No extension needed for his tenure of personal attention seeking and vendettas.
Muhammad Qaiser Baig
Dec 13, 2012 11:18am
he must continue for 1/2 of decade and his followers must follow his thinkings, his sincerity towards country and people of the country. Keep remember, every good person always left his good memories in brains.
Akram
Dec 12, 2012 07:26pm
If the lawyer movement wants to do something to win the hearts of the public, it must put its own house in order. I mean the delivering of justice not to the one who pays the most, but carrying out their oaths in both letter and spirit. Any legal case in Pakistan gets stuck in court for years, the lawyers draw the case out, and milk the 2 sides for every penny they can. This has to end, proper and swift justice must be dealt, otherwise the public will simply see it as more of the same. This is how they can win the hearts and minds of the public. They have an opportunity, don't miss the chance.
Muhammad Asif
Dec 13, 2012 10:35am
probably? he was absolutely right. the lawyers movement was a fraud. had the lawyers been correct, the right way was to get the judicial reference initiated by Musharraf on advice of Ahukar Aziz settled by the udicial commission. but they chose not to adopt to the constitutional way, but by coming out of streets and bringing the country to the brink of destruction.
Muhammad Asif
Dec 13, 2012 07:16am
The writer/reported missed pre 2007 era and failed to shed any light on that period. How and when he became the chief justice. The article also didn't talk about the fate of the reference sent against the CJ by the then President.
Siddique Malik
Dec 12, 2012 03:39pm
By the time, we can say good riddance, he would have done more harm to the rule of law than any corrupt politician, power-hungry general or a religious zealot could ever do. Siddique Malik, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
Muhammad Asif
Dec 13, 2012 09:10am
he is an opportunist. further, he has put a ban on extensions by himself.
observer
Dec 13, 2012 07:41am
He was restored with such a loud bang. Everybody was hoping for some concrete change in the way superior courts functioned and revamp of lower judiciary. What he has done is a disappointment on the ground. Even though he has apparently sacked a PM, gave a verdict against dual nationality of Parliamentarians, disposed of Asghar Khan petition, fixed CNG prices, etc., his focus has been to free the superior judiciary more than revamp the judicial system. Most of his verdicts are populist and political in nature and his leanings to PML-N (which is practically the force behind his restoration) and personal loathing of Gilani-Zardari duo have been too obvious to ignore. He will go down in history as a first in the sense of being a bold CJP but as one of political and administrative minded judges paying too much attention to realpolitik. Other hallmarks are his unclear judgments (Asghar Khan petition, clarifying after Speaker's inaction that Gilani was no more PM. etc.), his love for giving speeches, too many remarks in his ruling, making tall claims and promises, and his considering his personal gut feelings the final word.
Expat (usa)
Dec 12, 2012 10:34pm
Ghost of corruption by his son Arsalan Iftikhar will haunt him for ever. His son became millionaire in no time, father benignly ignored it.
Ali Hussain
Dec 13, 2012 09:38am
If CJ cannot do an iota of justice in the lower courts after his restoration as CJP in 2009... what expectation do we have from him ..... it all went bad for Pakistan since reinstating him as CJP.... the reference against him filed by Musharraf wasn't even heard... cause if it was heard fairly ... Arsalan Iftikhar case would have been opened in 2007 .... three cheers for our corrupt judges ... cheers..!!!!
observer
Dec 14, 2012 02:17am
Sorry. I am a big critic of lawyers movement and Justice I. Chaudhary. But I don't think Musharraf was right. Musharraf's motivation was to remove a CJP who had intentions of not letting Musharraf getting elected as President in uniform. Lawyers were not so wrong as well. Their movement was not an entirely bad thing as the intentions were to bring back nation's faith in legal system. One person who was right all the way is Aitzaz Ahsan. He sided with Mr. I, Chaudhary in the lawyers movement. But when judiciary did not deliver as per expectations of lawyers movement, he changed his course. It makes me sad when people say he did that for a Senate seat. But Aitzaz Ahsan is a wise man with right political sense.
janan
Dec 12, 2012 04:46am
I wish he get an extension, Pakistan need people like him desperately. People like him are getting very rare here.
Khan
Dec 12, 2012 03:53am
May we get the Next CJ as brave and Courageous as this one..Pakistan Jindabad
AC1960
Dec 12, 2012 07:29am
It will not be a big loss for the country since what Pakistanis needs is justice and not the CHIEF JUSTICE who looks more like a politician firing declarations every day. Hope one day in Pakistan things could come to normal and everyone gives his/her due contribution.
observer
Dec 12, 2012 11:41am
I am sure you are joking.
thoughtpurification
Dec 12, 2012 05:38am
Judicial restraint is the lesson this judiciary has to learn.
mehreen
Dec 12, 2012 05:39am
Failed to mention the "Best Jurist award" he got for 2012!!
observer
Dec 12, 2012 11:45am
When was this award given? In 2010?
syed baqar ahsan
Dec 12, 2012 03:45am
what he has done with the law and will do in next 365 days will be enough for his successors to clean in next 60 years.
Muhammad Salim
Dec 12, 2012 12:05pm
He will be the next Rafique tarar for Nawaz sharif for his tremendous loyality for the sharifs.
Sajjad Ur Rehman, Chitral
Dec 12, 2012 07:48am
A very happy birthday to Chief
Syed
Dec 12, 2012 05:52am
we need EXTENSION for his tenure. He is needed badly for this country.
Siddique Malik
Dec 12, 2012 01:49pm
That means India should be just getting started, too. But I am sure you know India is not just getting started; it is already at par with advanced countries in terms of democratic credentials, economic strength, respect for diversity, and international clout. Pakistan is not just getting started. It started on a wrong path long ago, and that's why its condition is worsening, not improving. It needs to make a U-turn. Siddique Malik, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
Ahmad K.
Dec 12, 2012 01:58pm
After his retirement, I predict revival of old judicial revolving door scenario. CJ Choudhry had his days in the Sun.When he is gone, it will be business as usual, especially justice delayed, justice denied.
peace
Dec 12, 2012 02:02pm
...best jurist from an organisation where he was a VP. if author mentioned about the award, I am pretty sure he would have to mention about the protest that was taking place outside that building where he was getting that award.
peace
Dec 12, 2012 02:03pm
and one who does not have an Arsalan as well!
Muhammad Asif
Dec 18, 2012 08:14am
ask him to weed out corruptions from the judiciary. one must start from his home.
Muhammad Asif
Dec 18, 2012 08:19am
just beacuse he was a military dictator? what about political and judicial dictators? and the word "never" is questionable?
Khanm
Dec 12, 2012 06:56am
Elevated as the 20th Chief Justice of Pakistan in June 2005, he will be among the three most influential figures in the country. (Most influential with least achievement) Let us not praise the people who they are but what they have achieved to change our system.
Shankar
Dec 13, 2012 08:17am
Mr. Malik, I think you are overstating India's achievements! We are even worse than Pakistan on corruption. With 30% living below poverty lines economic strength is a myth. You should look at one of our Parliament sessions to measure what a bunch of unruly people we elect. Being percieved as a Hindu majority country, and being in any influential block, we get kicked around by the rest of the world. I can only agree on respect for diversity but I do not know if it is a weakness camouflaged as stregth. Another plus point is a military which mainly minds its business. Terrorism is far lower than Pakistan. Overall we are not far better of tha Pakistan.
Ahmed Saeed
Dec 12, 2012 03:05pm
We all sincerely pray to Allah that he leaves as soon as possible. He is a good politician making mockery of the system. His justice with his own son will be remembered for ever.
Saeed
Dec 12, 2012 04:07pm
I think he will do his best to cling to his power. His best chances are if PTI forms next government but media and CJ himself will work for PMLN to win.
NASAH (USA)
Dec 12, 2012 02:59pm
My hope -- the 'future judges' will practice more prudence out of the Pakistani jurisprudence.
Muhammad Asif
Dec 18, 2012 08:27am
This does not justify the favoured treatment of Arsalan. If you steal something does not justify for me to start stealing? I think it makes sense.
Muhammad Asif
Dec 18, 2012 08:24am
Pray for the institution (judiciary) not for the personality (current CJP). He has to leave after 11th December 2013 (unless supreme court itself overruled it own ruling on extensions).