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Judicial history: blackest day remembered

March 09, 2013

MARCH 9, 2007, will be remembered as the blackest day in our judicial history. It was the day when Gen Pervez Musharraf summoned Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to his camp office in the Army House and arbitrarily removed him.

The lawyers’ community struggled with the legal battle in the apex court for months. It ended with a historic and landmark judgment that dismissed the presidential reference by Pervez Musharraf and honourably restored the Chief Justice to his rightful position.

An artificial political atmosphere was created for imposing emergency to once again strike at the superior judiciary on Nov 3, the same year, to achieve on Nov 3, 2007 what was misfired on March 9, 2007.

The only difference was that on March 9 the target was only Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while on Nov 3 the institution of the judiciary and over 60 independent judges of the Supreme Court and high courts of all the four provinces were wound up.

The sole purpose of that exercise was to pre-empt the anticipated judgment of the 11-member bench of the apex court against the alleged claim of the commando president for being a valid candidate under the constitution for his re-election as president of the country.

The idea was to obtain a favourable judgment from the PCO judges of a newly-constituted Supreme Court under Justice A.K. Dogar.

He, of course, succeeded in getting a favourable verdict from the Dogar court and subsequently got himself elected on Oct 6, 2008.

The members of the bar associations again threw in their lot with Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other deposed judges and started their massive campaigns, including the two long marches.

However, the second long march by the lawyers’ community, supported by political leaders and workers, woke up civilian rulers from their deep slumber on the midnight of March 15/16, 2009, and restored the pre-Nov 3 judiciary allowing the Chief Justice and his companion judges to resume their functions.

SYED IQBAL AHMAD Barrister-at-Law Karachi