ISLAMABAD: Former foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri has criticised outgoing Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s judicial activism and frequent use of suo motu power.
In an open letter to incoming Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, the former foreign minister said on Thursday: “I do not doubt the integrity, legal acumen or well-meaningness of outgoing Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, but, even well-meaning actions, unless completely and thoroughly thought through, can wreak disastrous consequences.” He said replicating CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry’s playbook, CJ Saqib Nisar ushered in a reign of suo motu driven judicial activism and remained in the news 24/7, often grabbing top headlines.
Mr Kasuri said that judges were supposed to live the life of a recluse, and, for this reason, the names of judges did not even appear in a telephone directory. “It is well settled that judges should not court publicity. They are meant to speak through their judgements,” he said and added that contrast CJ Saqib Nisar’s judicial activism with his frank acknowledgement: “I admit openly that I have been unable to put my own house in order.” Had he done so, he would have been remembered favourably by history, Mr Kasuri said.
While congratulating the new chief justice for his elevation, the former foreign minister said in genuine cases of executive and legislative failure to enforce fundamental rights in matters of public importance, the Supreme Court may as a last resort justifiably exercise its suo motu powers.
He, however, said that the inevitable backlash to the court’s unrestrained exercise of its suo motu powers during CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry’s tenure led his successors, Chief Justices Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Nasir-ul-Mulk and Anwar Zaheer Jamali, to adopt a corrective approach by restricting its exercise and prudently distancing the court from the media glare.
Consider, moreover, Mr Kasuri said the recent judicial interventions in economic and fiscal policy spheres. Such judicial manipulations of free market and regulatory mechanisms have chilled investor and business confidence precisely when to kick-start the economy the prime minister is trying to lure investment and generate a business-friendly environment.
“I am, therefore, saddened when a Chief Justice reprimands lawyers for representing thieves ‘chors’ (what about the presumption of innocence until the final judgement?) I was also flabbergasted when the well-respected senior journalist Mr Hussain Naqi was harshly addressed as ‘tum’ by CJ Saqib Nisar,” Mr Kasuri said.
Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2019