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Justice Jilani to 'review' use of suo motu powers

12 December, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: New Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani on Wednesday felt the need for considering and determining the limits of Supreme Court's suo motu powers.

Speaking on the eve of Supreme Court's full court reference in honour of outgoing CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jillani said, "In the process of re-thinking and re-evaluation of our role as judges I may like to share… there is a perception shared by many that the thin line of distinction between the requirements of Article 199 and 184(3) is being blurred. There is need to consider/determine the limits and contours of jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the constitution with a view to discourage frivolous petitions and to prevent the misuse of jurisdiction by vested interests."

Justice Jillani said that it is to be noted that the number of petitions under Article 184(3) also rose exponentially.

"It has also been reported that as compared to 450 petitions in 2004, the Supreme Court has received more than 90,000 petitions between April 2010 and December 2011. The Supreme Court's own records state that it continues to receive approximately 250 applications daily under Article 184(3). According to details, SC HR cell has received 201,456 complaints from 2009 to 2013, out of which 180,765 have been disposed of so far."

Justice Jillani believed that good governance and the rule of law had a symbiotic relationship.

"Good governance is not possible without the enforcement of rule of law in which every organ and institution of the state including the court has a role to play within the parameters of its authority spelt out in the constitution and the law," he said.

He added that the Supreme Court on account of its mandate under Article 184(3) and 187 of the constitution might be called upon to fill the gaps between the law and social dynamics "but while doing so the court has to defer to an equally important constitutional value of the trichotomy of powers…"

Justice Jillani also talked about a small episode of the days when Justice Chaudhry was made dysfunctional as chief justice and he was member of the bench that heard the petition filed by him, challenging the reference filed by the then president General (r) Musharraf.

He said that July 17, 2007 the deposed chief justice was to address a function at the Islamabad Bar Association, but just a few minutes before his arrival there was a big bomb blast causing death of eight persons and injuries to many.

"The city was tense and so was the court. Around midnight a senior member of the bench which was hearing the case walked to my suite in the Judges Enclave and asked me that since the situation was tense would it not be advisable to adjourn the case for a few days till the things settled down. Perhaps he wanted to test my morale. I said Absolutely not. Let them blast the court. We will announce the judgement on the street, on the Constitution Avenue… three days after the episode i.e. on July 20, we announced the judgement and restored the chief justice. I fondly recall those days. The court was infused with a strong determination to abide by the mandate of its oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution."

Lauding the role of the outgoing CJP for the independence of judiciary, Justice Jillani said, "Justice Chaudhry has transformed the Supreme Court of Pakistan from a formal constitutional court to a Supreme Court with a Human Rights face, in which the essence of constitutional interpretation is people oriented leading to a reconstruction of judicial power and process."

He said that during the tenure of Justice Chaudhry, the Supreme Court had been to root in constitutional democracy and rule out military rule.

The full court reference was attended by outgoing CJP Justice Chaudhry, new CJP Justice Jillani and all the judges of the Supreme Court.

During the reference, the attorney general of Pakistan, PBC vice chairman and president of the Supreme Court Bar Association also paid rich tributes to the outgoing chief justice of Pakistan.

Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry retired as CJP on Wednesday after serving as the country's top judge for more than eight years.


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