ISLAMABAD: The PTI’s demand that Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa should not sit on benches hearing cases related to the party invited the wrath of the legal fraternity, as Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) not only condemned the “tactic being used to put pressure on the CJP” but also requested the judiciary to not allow anyone to demean the repute, dignity, and honesty of judges for petty political gains.

The apex legal bodies reiterated their unwavering commitment to uphold the independence of judiciary and rejected any tactic to malign the institution of the judiciary and undermine the principle of the independent judiciary in their nefarious designs and motives to target the CJP.

The PTI leadership had demanded CJP Isa recuse himself from all benches hearing cases related to the party or its leaders, claiming that they had not been getting justice since September 2023 when the incumbent chief justice replaced Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

After the promulgation of Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act, 2023, it was authority of the three-member committee comprising the CJP and two next most senior judges to constitute bench, PBC vice chairman Riazat Ali Sahar, executive committee chairman Farooq H. Naek as well as SCBA president Shahzad Shaukat explained.

Therefore, the wish of one political party was “uncalled for”, they said. They deplored the tactic being used to pressurise the CJP, calling it “unacceptable to the legal fraternity”.

No one should be allowed to demean judges’ repute, say PBC and SCBA

They said the PBC and the legal fraternity always supported and struggled for the supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and independence of the judiciary, as enshrined in the Constitution. They pointed out that CJP Isa is a very competent, upright and independent judge who commands great respect amongst the legal fraternity and his integrity is above any doubt.

The SCBA said the judiciary, particularly the incumbent chief justice, had always played a crucial role in ensuring that justice is administered fairly and impartially, in accordance with the Constitution and the relevant laws of state.

SCBA president Shahzad Shaukat denounced the recent statement made by the PTI spokesperson demanding his recusal from hearing their cases.

The demands such as separating the CJP from cases of a political party were unfounded and based on preconceived notions, it was pointed out. If the said political party or an individual had any objections, the appropriate lawful course of action would have been filing a petition, the bar association explained.

It stated that the entire legal fraternity, including the SCBA, stood firmly with the CJP and requested the judiciary to not allow anyone to demean the repute, dignity, and honesty of judges, as well as of other institutions for petty political gains.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2024

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