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Justice Chaudhry-era comes to an end today

11 December, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: With Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry retiring today (Wednesday), an eventful era of superior judiciary is coming to end.

After his restoration in March 2009, the CJP was the most popular personality among political parties, lawyers, media and other sections of society, but his reputation has been damaged in the above-mentioned segments of state due to different reasons. The Supreme Court Bar Association has refused to give a farewell dinner to him on his retirement. Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court Bar Association has already filed a reference against him.

Many lawyers' movement's leaders, like Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, are expressing dissatisfaction over Justice Iftikhar's performance. It is alleged that the superior judiciary, headed by CJP Iftikhar has encroached on the powers of other constitutional institutions, especially parliament and Election Commission of Pakistan, therefore, parliamentarians are criticising his judgements on different issues. Opponents of the outgoing chief justice of Pakistan say that due to the court's intervention in economic affairs, country's problems have increased. They also object to the CJP's decision in the LNG case.

It has been noticed that the superior bars are disappointed over the CJP's role in the appointment of superior courts' judges. Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Qulb-i-Hassan has already alleged that appointments of all the superior courts' judges are based on nepotism and favouritism. The Judicial Commission is a constitutional forum set up in 2010, following the adoption of 18th and 19th constitutional amendments by parliament.

As the chairman of JCP, nine judges were elevated to the Supreme Court and six were appointed to the Federal Shariat Court. The commission appointed more than 30 additional judges, extended the tenure of 23, and confirmed the appointment of 39 judges of the LHC. The commission also appointed 17 additional judges, extended the tenure of 15 and confirmed 10 as judges of the Peshawar High Court. It also appointed 19 additional judges, extended the tenure of 25 and confirmed the appointment of 11 judges of the Sindh High Court.

Six additional judges were appointed, seven were confirmed as judges of the Balochistan High Court, while the tenure of four was extended. The commission appointed five additional judges, extended the tenure of one, and confirmed six as judges in the Islamabad High Court. A section of lawyers believe that rightwing lawyers were given preference in the appointment of superior courts judges in the last four years.

On the other hand, pro-CJP lawyers believe that former PCO judges are active against CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry after their removal and they are still using bar associations for defaming him. They also say that only aggrieved people are raising fingers over Justice Iftikhar's performance as CJP. There is no doubt that due to the efforts of outgoing CJP, the superior judiciary has emerged as the most powerful institution of the country after delivering judgements in high profile cases against other organs of state. It has been learnt that the CJP has given more than 830 reported judgements as the judge of SC.

CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has given decisions against his fellow judges, top government functionaries, parliamentarians, armed forces, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), several chiefs of two investigation agencies (NAB and FIA) and media persons since March 2009; therefore, he is facing criticism by aggrieved parties. Pro-CJP lawyers also claim that Justice Iftikhar has exposed the corruption of politicians after his restoration.

The CJP has played an important role in holding of general elections on time. He also rejected Tahirul Qadri's petition against the formation of the new Election Commission of Pakistan. Likewise, Justice Iftikhar has also compelled the provincial governments to hold local government elections. Justice (r) Muhammad Sair Ali had said that CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has the soul of a puritan, heart of a mountain and mind like a crystal ball. He fearlessly raises issues, artfully battles with them and prudently resolves them with ease.

When the CJP started afresh after the reinstatement, there were three kinds of judges. However, he resolved the issue very rationally. It has also been witnessed that since his reinstatement, the CJP did not get annual vacations. Similarly, strict discipline is being followed by all the Supreme Court staff since March 2009.


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