KARACHI: Justice Maqbool Baqar of the Supreme Court has said the judiciary has to isolate itself from all inappropriate connections for maintaining and ensuring its independence.
The judicial power and authority is the linchpin of the constitutional framework and is subject to the rule of law, said the senior judge while addressing a conference titled ‘Law, Judicial Interventions and Social Change, with a focus on Labour Law’ on Sunday.
Justice Baqar explained the Constitution envisaged an order wherein fundamental rights such as equality of status and opportunity before the law, socioeconomic, political justice, freedom of expression, belief, faith, worship and association shall be secured. “The superior courts are the guardian and protectors of the Constitution. It is the duty of the courts to ensure supremacy of the Constitution and protection of the fundamental rights of the people and to prevent all — individuals, groups and the state machinery — from committing any excess, or transgressing their limits as prescribed by the law and to conduct themselves in accordance with the law,” he added.
The senior judge in a session on ‘Dreaming about the law: Pakistani, South Asian and International Legal Context’ said that the judges needed to have knowledge of severe disparities and vitality that underpinned the ground realities of society. He said the judges must be aware of injustice that different sections of society were battling and that the human element was extremely important for the judiciary to be relevant. “The more mechanised, blindfolded or high-handed the judiciary is, the farther it will be from the application of justice. This is not simply important for the higher task of delivering justice but also for self-preservation,” he said.
Executive conveniently bypassing parliament, says Rabbani
According to him, a people-oriented judicial system is imperative for the independence of the judiciary and strengthening democracy. For the judiciary to be effective, he added, it was necessary that it “should earn respect from and confidence of the people”, which required a great deal of “openness and transparency”.
“Only an independent judiciary that can hold the government to account for their actions, which are justifiable and may ensure due enforcement of and compliance of the laws. Judicial independence is also a prerequisite for impartiality of the judges and for ensuring equality before the law and the courts, for all, and more so far the venerable and downtrodden,” he said.
Justice Baqar said it was a sine qua non for the judiciary to safeguard democracy and human rights. The judiciary had to isolate itself from all inappropriate connections for ensuring its independence, he said, adding that judicial power was the linchpin of the constitutional framework and was subject to the rule of law. He added it was also imperative that the appointment of judges be based on objective criteria.
The SC judge said the judiciary must remain conscious of the limits to the judicial and legal intervention in relation to political decisions by the legislative and executive limbs and should not step out of the prescribed parameters of exercise of its judicial powers.
Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani in his speech regretted that unfortunately the parliament had become totally redundant, as the state and executive felt convenient to bypass it. He condemned the curbs on media and the government move to introduce media courts.
Mr Rabbani deplored that most of the Muslim countries did not condemn the Indian actions against the people of occupied Kashmir. He also apprehended that the country was heading in a wrong direction in the Iran-Saudi conflict.
Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, in his paper read out during the conference, said that despite the phenomenal progress made the naked pursuit of power and influence in disregard to rule of law continues to be the main driving force in politics among nations and this had led to a number of issues including Palestine, Syrian crises, stalemate in Afghanistan and the US-Iran tension which were threat to world peace. Similarly, the unresolved Kashmir issue had assumed yet another serious dimension since Aug 5, he said.
In the absence of an effective international accountability system, Justice Jillani said crimes against humanity in several African and Latin American states went unpunished. He said the US, Russia, China, India, Israel and some other states had not ratified the Rome statute, as international rule of law regime would require the major powers to renounce their veto right and confer compulsory jurisdiction to the international court of justice. “If we want the world to be governed by the rule of law, then the UN has to be strengthened, the veto powers of the five permanent members of the security council has to be done away with, and the International Court of Justice has to have compulsory jurisdiction,” he stated.
Advocate Faisal Siddiqi called for raising judicial strength instead of establishing model trial courts to reduce the pendency of 1.8 million cases. He also condemned the curbs on media and urged the CJP to take suo motu notice of the state of affairs as it involved larger national interest.
The conference was organised by the Rasheed Razvi Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights in collaboration with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research at the Institute of Business Administration.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2019