ISLAMABAD: Outgoing Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial on Wednesday wondered why the Constitution’s command, which clearly states that elections should be held within the stipulated period of 90 days after the dissolution of the assemblies, was being contested.
Speaking at a farewell dinner hosted in his honour by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), the CJP observed that the superior courts would not be burdened with litigation if the institution functions strictly in accordance with the Constitution and the law, since issues would then get resolved by institutions itself.
Chief Justice-designate Qazi Faez Isa was not present during the speeches at the farewell dinner, but arrived shortly after they concluded. When asked why he came late, he explained during a casual conversation with lawyers that since the SCBA was one of the many petitioners, and their petitions were pending before the apex court, it was not appropriate for him to be present while speeches were being made.
Justice Isa arrives late to SCBA-hosted farewell dinner for sake of ‘propriety’
In his speech, CJP Bandial recalled that 15 years ago, he was part of the lawyers’ movement launched for the restoration of the independent judiciary in 2007 and described himself as the last of the “dinosaurs” who joined the judiciary after the success of the movement.
“So, say goodbye to the dinosaur,” the CJP said while concluding his speech, also acknowledging that after his retirement on Sept 16, he may no longer be part of this great institution and the judges.
“We have gathered here solely for one reason, which is that the Supreme Court is the custodian of the Constitution under the umbrella of which we all live,” he said, adding that it is the job of the Supreme Court as well as the high courts to protect, preserve, and uphold the Constitution at all costs.
CJP Bandial, however, regretted that despite all efforts and decisions of cases in a record large number, the pendency still stood at a whopping over 56,000 cases in the apex court, but blamed the constitutional matters that kept the judges busy in dealing with such matter.
He said, the decisions after hearing the cases were not the decisions of an individual judge but of the entire bench, adding that he was happy that the decisions made by the benches were appreciated. He, however, acknowledged that difference of opinion does occur while deciding cases.
He conceded that ordinarily, cases should not come directly to the Supreme Court but routed through the high courts. But he was non-committal when asked by the media about when a decision on the NAB amendment case would be coming. However, reporters present at the occasion got the sense that the verdict may be announced in a day or two before his retirement.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2023