ISLAMABAD: Justice Gulzar Ahmed was sworn in on Saturday to serve as the 27th chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) at the most challenging times in the country.
CJP Ahmed has taken the responsibility to head the institution of judiciary in an environment of discomfort for the federal government and the Pakistan Army’s top leadership which seems to be not happy over two verdicts in the matter of giving an extension to the army chief and in the high treason case.
President Dr Arif Alvi administered the oath to the new CJP at a ceremony held at the President House. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Supreme Court judges, federal ministers, senior lawyers and other government officials.
CJP Ahmed, who enjoys the reputation of being one of the most honest and courteous judges, will serve at the most prestigious and coveted office until Feb 21, 2022.
The apprehensions regarding uneasiness between different institutions of the State gain traction with announcement of the federal government to move the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth who presided over the three-judge special court which has recently announced death sentence for former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf in the high treason case.
President, PM, army chief have a meeting at presidency before oath-taking ceremony
Moreover, the Dec 16 verdict of the Supreme Court also created unease among the institutions since the court had held that the army chief will stand retired after six months unless parliament allows his extension by amending the relevant army laws.
In the event of the parliament’s failure to regulate the tenure and terms of the service of an army general and the chief of the army staff, the president will appoint a serving general officer as the new army chief on the advice of the prime minister, the court has held in its detailed judgement.
A 10-judge Supreme Court bench is also seized with a set of challenges against filing of a presidential reference against one of the members of the top judiciary — Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
In his speech at the full-court reference to bid farewell to outgoing CJP Asif Saeed Khosa, the new CJP had outlined his vision by highlighting the need of building civic infrastructure keeping in line with the time and pace of the ever-progressing world.
CJP Ahmed emphasised the need of taking humanistic approach at all levels, not only by the State, in performance of its functions but at all levels of society for a healthy growth of the nation.
He urged State functionaries to focus and ensure deliverance to people. Corruption and illegalities in all departments of the State needed to be seriously addressed and eliminated and persons involved in such activities be dealt with deterrence for this is the most basic and fundamental scourge which retards growth of the country, he added.
CJP Ahmed was a member of the five-judge bench which had disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case.
He issued strict and bold orders in the Karachi land grabbing and encroachment related cases and ordered removal of commercial activities from residential areas.
As a result of the order to remove encroachment from military lands, around 500 illegal buildings in Karachi were demolished and wedding halls and cinemas were removed.
He presided over the bench which convicted and disqualified Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Talal Chaudhry in a contempt case.
In a case pertaining to the deaths due to electrocution during rains in Karachi, CJP Ahmed said that the authorities in Karachi had completely failed in fulfilling their responsibilities.
One of the important tasks before the new CJP is to consider regulating the suo motu jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the constitution.
Already a working paper containing some proposed amendments to the Supreme Court Rules, 1980 to regulate the suo motu exercise of the apex court and to provide for intra-court appeal is also under active consideration of the full court consisting of all the judges of the Supreme Court.
The legal fraternity believes that CJP Ahmed will steer the ship of the superior judiciary out of controversies and will add up to the prestige of the institution.
Meanwhile, President Alvi, Prime Minister Khan and army chief met in the presidency and exchanged views on different national issues and security matters.
According to sources in the presidency, the meeting took place before the oath-taking ceremony of the new chief justice of Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2019