Justice Khosa takes up reins of Supreme Court

January 19, 2019

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President Dr Arif Alvi administering the oath of office to Justice Asif Saeed Khosa as Chief Justice of Pakistan at Aiwan-i-Sadr on Friday.—White Star
President Dr Arif Alvi administering the oath of office to Justice Asif Saeed Khosa as Chief Justice of Pakistan at Aiwan-i-Sadr on Friday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Justice Asif Saeed Khosa finally donned his robes as the 26th Chief Justice of Pakistan after he was sworn in to the top office at a ceremony held at the Aiwan-i-Sadr on Friday.

President Dr Arif Alvi administered the oath to him at a ceremony, which was also attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, other services chiefs, governors, judges of the Supreme Court, chief ministers, federal ministers and senior lawyers besides foreign dignitaries.

President of the Supreme Court of the Turkish Rep­ublic of Northern Cyprus Narin Ferdi Sefik, chief judge of the high court of Nigeria’s Borno State Kashim Zannah, former senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court of India and Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute’s governing committee president Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur, his spouse Savita Lokur and former judge and founding president of Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute, Canada, Sandra E. Oxner graced the occasion. They also witnessed the court proceedings at the courtroom No 1 after the oath-taking ceremony.

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan and Supreme Court Bar Association president Amanullah Kanrani welcomed the foreign guests and felicitated CJP Khosa over his elevation at the commencement of Friday’s court proceedings at the courtroom No 1.

President Alvi administers oath to 26th Chief Justice of Pakistan

“His 11-month tenure, coupled with his philosophy, learning and experience will practically prove to be 11 years in terms of structural reforms as Justice Khosa intends to bring in the judicial system to cut pendency,” said former attorney general Muneer A. Malik.

The video conferencing concept that Justice Khosa hinted at on Thursday during his speech at the full court reference of now retired chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, was an excellent idea, Mr Malik said, adding that this was long overdue. He said this would discourage the chronic problem of adjournments as lawyers would be able to attend proceedings through video conferencing instead of spending huge money on travel.

At the farewell ceremony, Justice Khosa, who is son-in-law of former chief justice Nasim Hassan Shah, had highlighted the need of introducing structural and systemic changes to minimise litigation, eliminate unnecessary delays and rationalise workload.

“For facilitation of the counsel and in order to minimise the chances of adjournments modern technology shall be utilised and a possibility shall be explored regarding establishing video links between the branch registries of the Supreme Court and the principal seat.

“This will help the counsel address arguments in the courtrooms of the branch registries and appropriate benches of this court may hear those arguments at the principal seat in real time and decide cases,” the chief justice said.

Such innovation, Justice Khosa added, could reduce inconvenience and a huge expense on the part of all concerned besides diminishing delays caused by unavailability of benches at the branch registries of the court.

Additional Advocate General for Punjab Faisal Hussain Chaudhry also appreciated the concept, stating that Justice Khosa wanted to take the SC to the cyber era by utilising new technologies as a tool in this modern age.

Mr Chaudhry recalled that Justice Khosa, known to be a top jurist on criminal law, was the only judge whose judgement in the Waris Ali case had been cited in the Howard University Law School list of cases. At that time, he said, Justice Khosa was the judge of the Lahore High Court. Unfortunately, the case was not upheld by the Supreme Court though at a later stage one of its benches supported the opinion expressed by Justice Khosa in 2017.

The additional advocate general said Justice Khosa was a man of integrity which was also evident from the fact that he declined to accept an offer of official vehicle during his recent private visit to the US. He said Justice Khosa always appeared as a strong but polite judge who never misbehaved with lawyers. “And when he decides after listening to the parties patiently, he adjudicates strongly with a clear mind,” he remarked.

Senior lawyer Faisal Siddiqui said Justice Khosa started with the disadvantage that his tenure was extremely short but he had a destiny and was a passionate judge. “I expect extraordinary things in his short tenure,” he believed.

Justice Khosa has contributed hugely by clearing the backlog of cases by deciding over 10,000 cases of criminal nature since 2014.

The chief justice is known as a scholarly judge among brother judges since his verdicts are always interspersed with quotations from William Shakespeare and other literary figures.

In addition to a number of landmark judgements, Justice Khosa is also the author of a number of books like “Heeding the Constitution,” in 1995, “Constitutional Apologues” in 1997 and “Judging with Passion” in 2008. Also, he had edited and compiled “The Constitution of Pakistan, 1973” with all amendments till 1989, which is reprinted every year. Justice Khosa is also in the process of completing his fourth book, “Breaking New Ground”.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019