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Non-Functional Chief Justice

14 March, 2007

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Pakistan is politically boiling over the ouster of Chief Judge Iftikhar Chaudry, with court activities nationwide brought to a halt after lawyers boycotted court proceedings in protest.

General Musharraf sent a reference to the Supreme Judicial Council against Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry on Friday last on charges of misconduct and misuse of authority and appointed Justice Javed Iqbal as the acting Chief Justice in his place.

Some of the charges being talked about against the ousted Chief Justice include, use of government helicopters, insistence upon undue protocol, and to put pressure on government functionaries to post his son on lucrative posts. .

The government claims that Mr Chaudry has been made "non-functional" till the judgment of the SJC. He is reported to be placed under undeclared house arrest, and that his passport as well as of his family members have been seized by the authorities.

The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) is currently trying the ousted Chief Justice who has questioned the composition of the SJC as its two members, according to him, are supposed to be tried on the charges of corruption and misconduct..

Political observers attribute the dismissal of the chief justice as to have nothing to do with corruption or misconduct charges. According to them, the corrupt and weak judges always suit the military rulers. If Justice Iftikhar had been a corrupt judge, he would have been the favorite of the military rulers, they claim.

Some of the questions that come to the mind of an ordinary person are :-

1) Is President's action against the chief justice legitimate?
2) What is the moral standing of President's action, when the corruption charges are pending against some of the ministers?
3) Should not similar references be filed against those involved in sugar scandal, stock market crash, and cement scandal?
4) Is this a message to the judiciary ?
5) Where will this crisis lead the country to?

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