Friday, December 2, 2011

Judiciary in Pakistan

Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, had said that the judiciary can intervene if the institutions trespass their constitutional limits. Addressing a function in the Supreme Court on the occasion of commencement of the new judicial year, he said that the judiciary had taken oath to protect the constitution. Therefore, to check unconstitutional steps was within the obligations of the judiciary, he said.
He also said that the executive did not seem satisfied with the judicial verdicts against its unconstitutional acts. Another important point in the chief justice's speech was the issue of corruption in the lower courts and he said that corruption could not be controlled in spite of increasing salaries and other perks of the lower judges.
Constitutional Limits
If the speech of the chief justice is reviewed, three important points would come to the front. One, which determining the constitutional limits of the institutions is within the power of the judiciary. Two, the executive is not satisfied with the judicial decisions. Three, corruption is still prevalent in the subordinate courts. All these three matters are interconnected and the judiciary is at their center. This center has, in the past, preferred to keep a mum over the trespassing of constitutional limits by different institutions or even gave a pat on their back for doing so. However, the executive had also been demonstrating a headstrong behavior. Had the judiciary been meeting its obligation without any pressure right from the beginning, keeping the institutions within their limit, and making the executive subservient to its decisions, the law and justice would have remained supreme today. Unfortunately even the impartial circles have been raising fingers to the independence of the judiciary, particularly on occasions when courts had invented the doctrine of expediency for the sake of lending constitutional protection to those dislodging the democratic governments.
Today, the judiciary is mentioning its power of intervening if the institutions trespass their limits, but the question arises that why in the past it supported one institution, which repeatedly violated the constitution and winded up democracy in the country. It was due to this unconstitutional step of the judiciary that these institutions took the courage to trespass their constitutional limits. Now, the institutions have developed the habit of violating the constitution to the extent that after some court verdicts the talks of clash among the institutions are being made even at the public level.
It can be said that a revolutionary thinking has emerged after the superior courts' decision to declare the presidential ordinance of 3 November and imposition of emergency regulations. However, it is regrettable that the other institutions are not bringing themselves in consonance with this thinking. Their years' old habit of violating the constitution cannot be eliminated in days. Therefore, it is necessary that gradual reforms should be brought about in other institutions as well. Simultaneously, the supervision of constitutional limits of these institutions by the judiciary is also essential. If, God forbid, any attempt is made to wind up democracy and the judiciary fails to stop such an act, the trend of violating the constitutional limits by the institution can increase to dangerous proportions.
Fulfilling of Responsibility by Judges
The chief justice is correct that fulfilling of responsibility by the judges is essential for ensuring peace and stability, strengthening national integrity, and improving administrative affairs.
When, during the Second World War, a dreadful picture of the country's situation was drawn before former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said that if the courts delivered justice, there was nothing to worry.
Process of Dispensation
There is a need expedite the process of dispensation of justice to the common man. The increase in the perks of lower judiciary is not a burden. Rather it will further improve the dispensation of justice. The judiciary can also come into action according to the constitution to bring those institutions on the right path, which are proving hurdles in provision of justice.
Now, the time has come to redress the 64-year-long violations of the constitution by providing justice to people in every sphere of life. The matters about which the executive is violating the judicial decisions are directly linked with the people. One should hope that by making different institutions subservient to the constitution, the judiciary will become a cause of harmony, rather than confrontation, among the state institutions. On the other hand, by respecting the constitution, every institution can not only win over the public confidence but, as the chief justice has said, the objective of peace, national integrity, and stability can also be accomplished.

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