'No shortcuts in the path of justice,' says SC's Justice Azmat Saeed in farewell speech

Updated August 27, 2019

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Supreme Court judges in a group photo on the eve of retirement of Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed (front row, 3R) at the apex court in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy: SC
Supreme Court judges in a group photo on the eve of retirement of Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed (front row, 3R) at the apex court in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy: SC

A full-court reference was held on Tuesday at the Supreme Court in honour of Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, who has reached superannuation.

Headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, the ceremony was attended by senior judges and lawyers including the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and vice-chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC).

In his farewell speech at the reference, Justice Saeed highlighted the importance of an independent judiciary, saying "The justice system of Pakistan has been established after a lot of hard work, brick-by-brick."

Related: Meet the SC judges behind the Panama Papers ruling

"I hope no shortcuts will come in the way of [provision of] justice," he added.

Justice Saeed also expressed the hope that his fellow judges will remain aware of the difference between "judicial anarchy and justice".

He said it was no less than an honour for him to serve the people by becoming a part of the judiciary. "Everyone should play their part for the provision of justice," the judge advised.

Chief Justice Khosa in his remarks termed Justice Saeed an asset of the superior judiciary, saying it had been his honour to have worked with him.

He noted that the outgoing judge had penned several historic verdicts and untangled several uncertain matters during his time at the top court.

"Justice Saeed's belief in the rule of law and Constitution is evident from his judgements," Justice Khosa remarked.

Lauding Justice Saeed's services for the judiciary, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan noted that the judge had written important verdicts concerning military courts and the right to a fair trial.

"The judiciary is losing a capable judge today," he said, pay respect to Justice Saeed on behalf of the federal government.

PBC vice chairman Syed Amjad Shah in his address accused the government of using tactics to suppress "dissenting voices".

"Should institutions be allowed to exceed their authority? Are the parliament and courts functioning independently?" he asked.

He said the Supreme Court should bind every institution to stay within its constitutional limits, adding that interference in political matters damages the reputation of the judiciary.

The PBC vice chairman also expressed concern at what he said was "out-of-turn hearing" of references against certain superior court judges.

He said he hoped a full-court bench of the SC will hear the applications against the presidential reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

SCBA President Amanullah Kanrani observed that Justice Saeed had given an excellent explanation of Article 62(1)(f) in the Panama Papers case and he gave the "historic" verdict in favour of hearing references of the Supreme Judicial Council in open court.

He said the SCBA considered hearing of cases in transparent and open courts a fundamental right.

In brief: Justice Saeed's career

Justice Saeed was first enrolled as an advocate of the Lahore High Court (LHC) in 1981 and was subsequently promoted to advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Justice Saeed also served as special prosecutor of the Ehtesab Bureau in 1997 and was a member of the legal team prosecuting many high-profile cases at the LHC.

According to the SC website, he served as special prosecutor National Accountability Bureau in 2001. Justice Saeed was appointed as an additional Judge of the LHC in 2004. In 2012, he was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Justice Saeed last month took oath as acting Chief Justice of Pakistan and held the title till August 3.