JUSTICE Dost Mohammad Khan
JUSTICE Dost Mohammad Khan

ISLAMABAD: Consi­der­ed to be cheerful and outspoken during court proceedings, Justice Dost Mohammad Khan of the Supreme Court doffed his robes on Monday after reaching superannuation.

Though Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and other judges of the Supreme Court bade farewell to Justice Dost Mohammad Khan at a simple ceremony, no traditional reference was held in the Supreme Court, which is usually held in honour of the outgoing judge. Justice Khan also served as chief justice of the Peshawar High Court before his elevation to the Supreme Court.

Likewise, no farewell dinners were hosted in his honour — a normal feature held usually at the ceremonial hall to honour the retiring judges.

When Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Kamran Murtaza was asked why no farewell dinner was hosted in honour of the judge by the top bar of the country, he explained that like President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Pir Kareem Khurshid, he also had received a letter from the registrar office of the court, informing them that the judge would not like to receive any dinners because of his personal reasons.

CJP, other judges bid farewell to the outgoing judge, but no traditional reference is held in his honour

A senior counsel on condition of anonymity told Dawn that finding reasons behind what could be called an “unceremonious retirement” would be speculative and inappropriate because it was the personal choice of the retiring judges like what happened many times in the past and, therefore, not a compulsory event.

There are many who are finding a conspiracy behind not taking the reference, while the others believe that because of the fear of the criticism on the part of the bars during speeches, the judge may have decided not to take any reference.

Citing an example, he recalled what happened recently when certain bar members criticised during a reference hosted in honour of a high court judge on his elevation to the Supreme Court. He also recalled that major bars like the PBC and SCBA had not hosted any farewell dinner for former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry when he retired.

But he hastened to add that a judge of the Supreme Court, the highest court of the country, was not fearful of anything and he could say anything he liked to.

Meanwhile, senior counsel from Karachi Faisal Siddiqi was of the view that Justice Khan was a gentleman judge who gave patient hearings to lawyers, but some of the major judgements he had written were very problematic, which the Supreme Court in future would need to rectify and correct.

A handout issued by the apex court said a simple and dignified ceremony was held in honour of Justice Khan in the Supreme Court on Monday. It which was attended by the chief justice and other judges of Supreme Court.

The judges lauded the professional and legal acumen of Justice Khan and praised his lordship’s devotion and dedication for the cause of justice. They also paid deepest regards to the judge and prayed for his long, healthy, prosperous and productive life after his retirement. The judges also presented souvenir and shields to Justice Khan as a token of respect and gesture of goodwill.

Meanwhile, Advocate Inamul Rahiem, who usually follows missing persons cases, wrote to PBC vice chairman Murtaza a letter demanding an immediate general body meeting of the council to hold a reference in honour of Justice Khan for his meritorious contributions for the independence of the judiciary and enforcement of fundamental rights.

In his letter, Mr Rahiem said Justice Khan was known for his integrity, unparalleled resolve for independent judiciary and unique privilege of protecting the fundamental rights of the ordinary citizens, including release of thousands of missing persons from illegal detention.

During one of the hearings in the missing persons case, he said, Justice Khan had given an observation — which was also hailed by civil society — that if the family of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav could be granted access to meet him, then why the same right could not be extended to the families of “our own citizens” who had been held in detention by the country’s secret agencies for years without any charge.

In the same background, Mr Rahiem said, certain quarters might have been apprehensive that Justice Khan would pass some observations or remarks regarding the fate of missing persons in his farewell speech.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2018