What the oth­ers say…

SouthAsia asked a num­ber of peo­ple how Iftikhar Mo­ham­mad Chaudhry per­formed in of­fice. Here are some re­sponses:

Southasia - - COVER STORY -

Ma­lik Amin As­lam, Cen­tral Vice Pres­i­dent, PTI

Af­ter the his­toric restora­tion of the de­posed judges, the re­newed ten­ure of for­mer Chief Jus­tice Iftikhar Chaudhry started with eu­phoric ex­pec­ta­tions com­ing at the heels of a suc­cess­ful lawyers’ move­ment. In hind­sight, the CJ was quite suc­cess­ful in rais­ing ju­di­cial ac­tivism to new heights, es­pe­cially us­ing the suo moto tool for ad­dress­ing is­sues of pub­lic in­ter­est, such as ris­ing in­fla­tion, es­ca­la­tion of util­ity prices, ex­pos­ing and ar­rest­ing white col­lar mega-cor­rup­tion scan­dals and try­ing to solve the mys­tery behind "miss­ing per­sons" in Pak­istan.

How­ever, this same pub­lic in­ter­est tool be­came con­tro­ver­sial when its "se­lec­tive" ap­pli­ca­tion came into play. The elec­toral fraud of 2013 was un­veiled by NADRA checks and then bla­tantly en­dorsed by the ECP, which pub­licly ac­knowl­edged the fail­ure of the vote-check­ing sys­tem. Un­for­tu­nately, the CJ's carte blanche suo moto pow­ers failed to take le­gal cog­nizance and ju­di­cial action where it was most wanted. This was the "mother of all pub­lic in­ter­est cases" which the CJ chose to ig­nore and that will, un­doubt­edly, cast a shadow on his, oth­er­wise, use­ful ten­ure.

Shahzad Chaudhry, Air Vice Mar­shal (R)

The ten­ure of for­mer Chief Jus­tice Iftikhar Chaudhry will be re­mem­bered for the ex­ces­sive use of the suo moto pro­vi­sion. He will also be re­mem­bered for hav­ing said no to a mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment’s de­sire that he step down. Iftikhar Chaudhry was a com­plex per­son and there­fore ran a con­tro­ver­sial term. He re­bounded from an ab­so­lutely nor­mal stature to a larger-than-life fig­ure when the lawyers’ com­mu­nity stood behind him and led a coun­try­wide cam­paign to re­in­state him af­ter he was re­moved fol­low­ing his re­fusal to step down.

Some of his de­ci­sions were poor and in­ter­fered in the ex­ec­u­tive’s func­tion­ing. One such de­ci­sion was the halt­ing of pri­va­ti­za­tion of some PSEs. These have since gob­bled bil­lions as they re­main ir­recov­er­able and con­tinue to per­form badly. His in­ter­ven­tion in fix­ing prices of some com­modi­ties in­di­cated a poor un­der­stand­ing of mar­ket forces and the me­chan­ics of ad­min­is­tra­tion.

He overtly sought recog­ni­tion. He de­sired the best cars and a pro­to­col where he would al­ways be saluted by uni­formed per­son­nel. He be­trayed a strange fetish for the uni­form and was up­set when a uni­formed per­son would ap­pear be­fore him in civil­ian clothes. He seemed to have a sim­i­lar fetish for power and con­tin­ued to chal­lenge those in au­thor­ity as an im­plicit in­di­ca­tion of his even greater power over them as a chief jus­tice. He sent pack­ing a prime min­is­ter, a NAB chair­man and many more. He is also said to have a lik­ing for the me­dia and made ob­ser­va­tions and re­marks when he knew they would make news.

Shamshad Ah­mad, For­mer For­eign Sec­re­tary

No mat­ter what his de­trac­tors say, Iftikhar Chaudhry’s ten­ure as Chief Jus­tice was a high wa­ter­mark in our check­ered ju­di­cial his­tory. It marked the dawn of an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary in Pak­istan, where con­sti­tu­tions have been vi­o­lated in letter and spirit with a 'cus­tom-made' ju­di­ciary al­ways available to sanc­tify mil­i­tary coups.

With its restora­tion, the newly in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary was seen by the na­tion as a ray of hope and re­demp­tion, and since then it has in­deed been re­pay­ing some of its old debts owed to the na­tion since the 1950s. It has buried the in­fa­mous "doc­trine of ne­ces­sity" for­ever, and now seeks

to up­hold the rule of law and con­sti­tu­tional supremacy in the coun­try.

But are our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers ready to re­verse the galling tide of his­tory? Do they now sub­scribe to any value sys­tem? Do they have the will or the ca­pac­ity to func­tion demo­crat­i­cally and con­sti­tu­tion­ally? Have they learnt any les­sons from their own fail­ures that in­vari­ably led to suc­ces­sive po­lit­i­cal break­downs and long spells of mil­i­tary rule? What our po­lit­i­cal gnomes today for­get is that an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary is their strength, not weak­ness. They must re­spect its ver­dicts and en­force the rule of law, be­fore it is too late.

Basil Nabi Ma­lik, At­tor­ney at Law

The ten­ure of the for­mer Chief Jus­tice Iftikhar Chaudhry is punc­tu­ated by mile­stones but also marred by con­tro­ver­sies. He played a piv­otal role in es­tab­lish­ing an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary, ex­pand­ing the pow­ers of the court, hold­ing po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials to task and cham­pi­oning hu­man rights.

How­ever, the episode in­volv­ing his son raises many unan­swered ques­tions. No sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts were made to bet­ter the lower ju­di­ciary or strengthen the tools hold­ing judges ac­count­able for their ac­tions.

Saeed Khalid, For­mer Am­bas­sador

Chief Jus­tice Chaudhry's great con­tri­bu­tion was by way of chal­leng­ing the ar­bi­trari­ness of the ex­ec­u­tive branch. Gen­eral Mushar­raf per­ceived this at­ti­tude as a direct threat to his au­thor­ity. In sus­pend­ing the CJ, Mushar­raf un­der­es­ti­mated the ad­ver­sary but also ig­nored another change that had come about: the ex­plo­sion of pri­vate chan­nels. Live TV cov­er­age had greatly strength­ened the ex­er­cise of free­dom of ex­pres­sion in the coun­try. Mushar­raf would pay for his er­rors, even­tu­ally leav­ing of­fice. The CJ's re­turn was one of the most im­por­tant events in our his­tory.

There is no doubt that through Chaudhry's re­in­state­ment the ju­di­ciary's stature has gone up. How­ever, that has not as­sured pro­vi­sion of jus­tice to or­di­nary ci­ti­zens. There are signs that the new CJ would be more fo­cused on dis­pens­ing adal to the peo­ple rather than mak­ing headlines by chal­leng­ing the ex­ec­u­tive on a daily ba­sis.

Dr. Ikra­mul Haq, Ad­vo­cate, Supreme Court

The em­phatic ‘NO’ by Iftikhar Chaudhry to Gen­eral Mushar­raf, a laud­able act, changed the en­tire ju­di­cial land­scape of our coun­try. On Novem­ber 3, 2007, Mushar­raf im­posed a ju­di­ciary-spe­cific mar­tial law and for judges it be­came a mat­ter of sur­vival. The peo­ple’s strug­gle from March 9, 2007 to July 20, 2007 and from Novem­ber 3, 2007 to March 16, 2009, cul­mi­nated in the sec­ond resti­tu­tion of Iftikhar Muham­mad Chaudhry as the Chief Jus­tice of Pak­istan in March 2009.

As March 2009 brought “jus­tice” for Iftikhar Muham­mad Chaudhry, the Supreme Court, as an in­sti­tu­tion, also con­veyed a change in cat­e­gor­i­cal terms – no longer a de­fender of mil­i­tary takeovers. Iftikhar Chaudhry soon be­came con­tro­ver­sial for what many al­lege to be an “abuse” of suo moto pow­ers that caused panic in many cir­cles. The PPP gov­ern­ment al­leged trans­gres­sion of con­sti­tu­tional lim­its whereas CJ Chaudhry was adamant that if peo­ple’s rights were vi­o­lated, the court had no op­tion but to in­ter­fere. His­tory will judge Iftikhar Muham­mad Chaudhry, but the fact re­mains that as a chief jus­tice he did lit­tle to im­ple­ment the much-needed re­form agenda that would re­move snags in a ju­di­cial sys­tem that is hope­lessly re­dun­dant, painfully un­pro­duc­tive and marred by in­ef­fi­ciency and in­or­di­nate de­lays.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.