Judges shouldn’t care about people’s wishes in their verdicts: ex-CJP

Published January 1, 2023
Former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Jawwad S Khawaja. — White Star: Arif Ali
Former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Jawwad S Khawaja. — White Star: Arif Ali

LAHORE: Former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Jawwad S Khawaja said he never cared about how his judgements were received, as a judge should not write verdicts according to the wishes of the people.

“I have written a lot that was controversial. But what’s a controversy? If I write something that’s not liked by someone, it would become a controversy,” he said while speaking at the launch of his book, Slaughtered without a Knife, at the Kitab Ghar Literary Festival on Saturday.

“I have given many references (of cases) in the book where I knew the verdicts I was writing will not be accepted generally, but (the question is) should I care about it? A judge has to buck the trend,” he maintained.

He also said he was against writing an autobiography because he considered it akin to self-projection despite all efforts at objectivity. “A friend suggested I should write only about my 16-year service as a judge, and this book is a story of those years. Otherwise, I am against coming out in public.”

To a question, the former CJP said it took him four months to write the book. He would have taken more time had he not been assisted by some friends as he was forgetting things (incidents) over time. “I am writing an Urdu book too and I wanted to publish that first.”

To a question about poetry in his judgements and its connection with his job as a judge, he said: “Every sensitive person is connected with poetry since birth. Same was the case with me.”

He said one of his students told him people would object to quoting Hafez and Rumi in his judgements. “I told him people won’t object if I quoted Shakespeare or Wordsworth. They are good poets, but our foundation is in Hafez Sherazi, Bulleh Shah and Sultan Bahu. They are related to our conditions and thinking.”

Justice Khawaja now works with his school at Harsukh in Thetar village along Bedian Road. He called technology and mobile phones levelers but said in this country, children were being made handicaps. Quoting an example of language suppression against the children from Punjab, who could not learn English language, he questioned why a child should learn a foreign language which had no connection with his/her life.

“The creative skills of children at Harsukh School, where my own grandchildren also study, are great, while the state, society and private schools are all killing their creative side.”

Mr Khawaja revealed that 3,000 judges of the country wrote verdicts in English, but “I can tell you they don’t know the language. They can’t write in English and their verdicts show that”.

ENVIRONMENT: Dr Nousheen Zaidi, a cancer biologist and head of the cancer research centre at Punjab University, said in the Chungi Amar Sidhu area of Lahore, 40 per cent houses were receiving sewage-contaminated water due to a nullah nearby.

She said even more shocking results were found in the Shadipura area of Harbanspura where water contained lead, a heavy metal, in high quantity.

“The Punjab government’s permissible limit of lead is 50 but in Shadipura it was found between 150 and 1,500. As a result, 82pc children there are suffering from anemia, which is a symptom of lead poison.”

Dr Zaidi said as per a global review conducted last year, the highest level of lead was found in Pakistan’s population.

“When we contacted Wasa and PCSIR, they claimed the water was clean and safe. We sent them branded bottled water and mixed lead in it and the government labs declared that clean too.”

Dr Zaidi is now working on a project of collecting water samples from 400 spots in La0hore, which would be tested and analysed, and pollution hotspots identified.

Dr Alia Haider of Haqooq-i-Khalq Movement said three years back, her party had launched an initiative of holding medical camps in the working class areas.

“Healthcare is a basic human right and without discrimination of sex, gender, ethnicity or religion, everybody should have the facility. It should not be exclusive to only the rich.”

The first medical camp was held at Chungi Amar Sidhu. “From these camps, we came to know that there are big issues of skin and hepatitis in the area, which were mainly due to climate. The smog in Lahore directly affects our respiratory system,” she remarked.

Dr Haider said they were holding medical camps in other areas like Harbanspura as well twice a week.

Published in Dawn, january 1st, 2023

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