LAHORE: In the wake of criticism by politicians from ruling and opposition parties and a recent statement of National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq that he saw a “greater plan” that may restrict the life of assemblies, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday advised people not to doubt the integrity of the judiciary as it would never become “part of any plan”.
The CJ’s response came at a seminar a day after the Supreme Court absolved Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan of all allegations of corruption, but disqualified his party’s secretary general Jahangir Tareen under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.
The same day, another SC bench dismissed an appeal of the National Accountability Bureau seeking reopening of the Hudaibya Paper Mills reference involving the Sharif family, especially Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Speaking at the seminar organised by the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) here, CJ Nisar explained that he had no prior knowledge that the judgement in Hudaibya Paper Mills reference was also fixed for announcement on Friday — the day he announced the judgement on the petition of a PML-N leader seeking disqualification of Imran Khan and Mr Tareen.
Terms pronouncement of Hudaibya and disqualification verdicts same day a coincidence
He said it was a coincidence as he had believed in announcing reserved verdicts within a month and there was also a judgement on this point.
“You should be proud of the independence judges are enjoying within the judiciary,” he said, adding that the decision of the Hudaibya Paper Mills case could have been different if anyone was able to exert pressure on judges.
“Every judge is independent and taking his own decisions,” he said, making it clear that there was no one who could influence or dictate the judgements.
Expressing serious annoyance with the perception that the judiciary had become part of any bigger plan or design, the CJ maintained, “No one has been born yet who could pressurise the judiciary”.
Likening the role of the judiciary to a “baba” (an elderly person in village), CJ Nisar said, “This judiciary is your baba, do not doubt its integrity.” The baba had not and would not become part of any plan, he added.
He said the judges made decisions with full honesty and a clear conscience. He said criticism could be made on the reasoning of decisions but not against the judges. “Do not hurl abuses at judges if a decision comes against you.”
Referring to everyday analysis on television channels, the CJ expressed disappointment, saying people discussed merits of judgements without carefully reading them. He also strongly rejected an impression given in the media that there was a division among the judges of the Supreme Court.
He said democracy was the main component of the Constitution and “we [judges] have taken an oath to protect the Constitution”. And the existence of the Constitution was linked to democracy, he added. “We will never let down our posterity.”
He regretted that burden of high-profile political litigation in the Supreme Court had been delaying justice in cases of the general public.
“I wish cleaning of political dirt from the Supreme Court’s laundry may take some rest and I could dispense quick justice among common citizens,” CJ Nisar said while narrating a case of a poor lady who got her inherited property after spending the prime of her life.
The chief justice also hit out at the legal fraternity while responding to the problems pointed out by the bar’s leaders. He asked the leaders to name any lawyer who had ever refused a frivolous brief of his client.
He lamented that lawyers used to file frivolous petitions only to take fee from their clients and complained with judges when they dismissed those petitions with cost. He confessed that the delay was the bigger menace of our judicial system and unfounded litigation multiplied this.
He also condemned frequent adjournment requests by lawyers on petty grounds and unnecessary strikes being observed by the bars. He pointed out with surprise that the bar also observed a strike to celebrate the victory of the Pakistan cricket team.
The CJ admitted that wrongs were on both sides — the bench and the bar — and that he was determined to make them right. He said there must be good training programmes for the judges and urged the bar to come up with suggestions for law reform.
Responding to the bar’s reservation on the appointment process of judges in the higher judiciary, CJ Nisar said the bar leaders had been wrongly interpreting the words “meaningful consultation”. He also rejected an allegation of the bar levelled on the integrity of some of the new appointees.
Senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah were present on the occasion.
PBC Vice Chairman Ahsan Bhoon, Supreme Court Bar Association President Pir Kaleem Khurshid and Azam Nair Tarar represented the bar and shared problems of the legal fraternity with the top judges.
Later at a seminar held in the Punjab Judicial Academy, CJ Nisar hailed the newly introduced alternative dispute resolution system in Punjab. He said the system was the need of the hour and could be helpful to minimise burden of litigation on the courts.
Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2017