ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry marked the end of his term on Wednesday with a speech at the Supreme Court and expressed his confidence in the leadership of CJ-designate Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, the next most senior judge in Pakistan.
He said Justice Jillani and future chief justices will continue to support and enhance the work and functionality of the Human Rights Cell also.
“The Human Rights Cell has, in fact, processed thousands of complaints and the court also took many suo motu cases,” he said while addressing the Full Court Reference held in his honuor at the Supreme Court building on the eve of his retirement.
Besides SC registrar and all judges of the apex court, the Full Court Reference was also attended by the attorney general for Pakistan, VC Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), president and elected members of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), all four provincial advocate generals and a large number of lawyers from across the country.
The AG, vice chairman PBC, president SCBA and CJ-designate paid rich tributes to the outgoing chief justice of Pakistan.
Justice Chaudhry was appointed chief justice in 2005 and attracted national prominence two years later, when he was sacked by then-President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
He was reinstated in 2009 after a protest movement led by the nation's lawyers.
Justice Chaudhry leveraged his prominent position to pressure the government and military on issues such as corruption and illegal detentions. But critics accused him of wading into political areas outside of the judiciary's domain.
Commenting on democracy in the country, CJ Chaudhry stated that the democracy was impossible without free and fair elections all the way from the local government to the national level.
“The Court has adjudicated on a number of cases relating to the fair conduct of elections in ensuring that fake ballots and the like are not utilised, and electioneering practices are free and fair,” he said.
Commenting on local government polls in the country, the chief justice said the apex court ensured the constitutional command of Article 140-A in that regard. “I am confident and hopeful that the judiciary will continue to support democracy in this vein.”
He expressed great pleasure and satisfaction while saying, “The judiciary has realised its duty to ensure the enforcement of the Constitution and the rule of law in the country.”
“Through its judgments, the judiciary, after 62 years of independence has succeeded in making the general public to believe that their welfare exists in the rule of law and constitutionalism.”
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry maintained that the court always tried its best for ensuring the enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
He emphasised upon the executive while saying that it was the first and foremost duty of the executive to ensure adherence to rule of law.
The Chief Justice stressed upon focusing on ‘white collar crime.’ “White collar crime is a particularly malevolent species of crime. Its effects are wide-ranging and affect the public at large because of the billions that are sapped from the national exchequer.”
Frivolous petitions must end: Jillani
There is a need to reconsider and determine the limits and contours of jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution with a view to discouraging frivolous petitions and preventing the misuse of jurisdiction by vested interests,” Justice Tassaduq Jillani said.
Justice Jillani candidly conceded that there was a perception shared by many that the thin line of distinction between the requirements of Article 199 and Article 184(3) was being blurred. Article 199 speaks about the jurisdiction of the high courts whereas under Article 184(3) the Supreme Court enforces and checks violation of fundamental rights.
“I believe that good governance and the rule of law have a symbiotic relationship. Good governance is not possible without the enforcement of rule of law in which every organ and institution of the state, including the court, has a role to play within the parameters of its authority spelt out in the constitution and law,” Justice Jillani emphasised.
He observed that on account of its mandate under Articles 184(3) and 187 of the Constitution, the apex court might be called upon to fill the gaps between the law and social dynamics, but while doing so the court had to defer to an equally important constitutional value of the trichotomy of powers as also the canons of fair trial, particularly in view of Article 10A (fair trial).
To substantiate this, he cited a quote from US Supreme Court judge Justice Robert H. Jackson — “We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.”
Recollecting the events of March 9, 2007, when Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was deposed by then president Gen Pervez Musharraf, Justice Jillani said the court was then infused with a strong determination to abide by the mandate of its oath to “preserve, protect and defend the constitution”.
“The restoration of the chief justice on July 17, 2007, was not glorification or reinstatement of an individual but rather a vindication of judges’ sacred oath of office. This spirit, this resolve and determination to abide by the terms of oath will continue to inspire us for the times to come and shall survive the retirement of the chief justice,” he said.
Eulogising the services rendered by the outgoing chief justice, Justice Jillani said he had forced “us to rethink and re-evaluate the fundamental questions regarding constitutionalism, law and judicial role and its relationship with the state, society and individuals”.