LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday dismissed rumours of a threat to democracy in the country, saying that there is no legal provision in the Constitution that allowed for “judicial martial law”.

“As long as I hold this office, we will not allow democracy to be derailed,” CJP Nisar said in his address at a Pakistan Day ceremony organised at Cathedral School — his alma mater — here on Friday. The chief justice said the judiciary would not allow any deviation from the Constitution. “The country has to function in accordance with the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Earlier in his address, he said that good health, education and peace were blessings from God, and added: “We are lucky to have been born in a free country.” However, it wasn’t enough to have freedom, there was also the responsibility to protect it, he said.

Speaking in reference to calls for judicial intervention with regards to a caretaker government set-up prior to elections, CJP Nisar said that no extra-constitutional measure would be tolerated.

Remarks by top SC judge come after calls for judicial intervention with regards to a caretaker set-up prior to elections

Earlier, Sheikh Rashid of the Awami Muslim League had asked CJP Nisar to impose a 90-day “judicial martial law” in the run-up to the forthcoming general elections.

“Rest assured that there will be no martial law, within or from outside (the judiciary), as far as I am in office. My fellow judges and I have taken an oath to protect the Constitution, and one of the salient features of the Constitution is democracy,” he said.

CJP Nisar said he hoped the general elections would be independent and that the next government would be formed in accordance with the Constitution.

Calling for “justice without bias”, the chief justice said this was the need of the hour. “The role of a judge is to dispense justice without fear... Indiscriminate dispensation of justice should be visible. Law is the same for all, be it the poor or the rich,” he said.

For a country to progress, it needed strong quality leadership, an independent judiciary and impartial dispensation of justice, said the chief justice, adding that this was necessary for strengthening society. “The day we will get credible and effective leaders, you will see your fortunes change.”

He recalled that he became a student at the Cathedral School towards the end of 1959, and said that his teachers had placed a lot of emphasis on discipline and mutual respect for members of the opposite gender. “I am proud of being a student of the Cathedral and Government College... my teachers and heads of schools have made me what I am today,” he recalled fondly, adding that they had instilled in him respect for discipline and rules.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2018