ISLAMABAD, Dec 9: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry says that “it is incumbent upon the judiciary to respond to cases of violation of fundamental rights and give authoritative opinion on issues in question of law and public importance”.

Speaking at a full court reference held on Friday to bid farewell to Justice Mohammad Sair Ali on his retirement, the chief justice reminded those who projected the court’s actions “in a negative light” that the Constitution and case laws “fully empower the court to take cognizance in a variety of situations to enforce fundamental rights and do substantive justice”.

He said the Supreme Court “has emerged as a true custodian of the fundamental rights of the people and the guarantor of constitutional dispensation”. The court would continue using its powers in the best interest of the nation within the well-defined parameters set by the Constitution, he said.

“No obstructions towards independence of judiciary and rule of law would be tolerated in performing the sacred duty of administration of justice,” the chief justice said.

He said it was the singular duty of the apex court not only to enforce the freedom of life but also to ensure the quality of life for the citizens.

It is only by adhering to the dictates of the Constitution that our nation can achieve political stability and economic development and attain its rightful and honourable place in the world, he said.

“Whether it is parliament, executive or judiciary, the Constitution has set limitations for every institution.

“The armed forces too are bound to perform functions as entrusted to them by the law and the Constitution,” the chief justice said and added that under Article 245 they had to defend Pakistan against external aggression or a threat of war under the directives of the federal government.

“They are also under obligation to act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so. The armed forces of Pakistan perform a very noble function of defending the country.”

Justice Sair Ali said the Supreme Court today was an invincibly viable institution under the leadership of the chief justice.

He said the rule of law should be ensured but it appeared that the society had started stagnating.

“Our culture is becoming impetuous; reliance on words and books is considered irrelevant and research as futile. This is producing a literature of chaos and language of confusion,” the judge said.

He said the law could not be allowed to become an instrument of negativity in the hands of reactionary forces and an attempt to push the society backwards must be vigilantly monitored and checked through an active process of judicial review.

He, however, added: “By all estimation, Pakistan will be a state of solutions, peace, prosperity and constitutionalism”.

Pakistan Bar Council’s Vice-Chairman Latif Afridi expressed fear that ‘those who considered it their right to rule, interfere, deform and disfigure institutions’ were hatching conspiracies to have their cronies at the helm of affairs.

He said the bar would oppose every such effort and defend constitutional reforms.

“The judiciary, being an independent institution, must show the door to elements that in the past have destabilised and destroyed institutions and are still hatching conspiracies.

“Let us undertake and declare that both the bench and the bar will stand for the protection and supremacy of the Constitution and no constitutional deviation shall be tolerated in any form.”

He said the bar was concerned and the people of Pakistan should be on alert against any attempt or even thinking of constitutional deviation and should rise, resist and fight against any such deviation.

“I also call upon the superior judiciary to declare in so many words that no constitutional deviation is acceptable and every institution must work within the framework prescribed by the Constitution.”

He also suggested to the democratic forces not to bring every cause to the Supreme Court. Political issues should be settled at a political level, he said.