Original Articles

We condemn army sponsored judical coup in Pakistan

Pakistan's Supreme Court has a long history of derailing democratic governments at the behest of Pakistan army.

We condemn Pakistan army sponsored Judicial Coup in Pakistan, which is an indirect attack by Pakistan’s military estabilshment on nascent democracy in this country.

A three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain heard a set of constitutional petitions challenging National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza’s ruling over the reference against Yousuf Raza Gilani. The bench declared that Yousuf Raza Gilani stood disqualified since April 26. The bench announced the move after convicting Gilani on April 26 of contempt for refusing to ask Switzerland to reopen a multi-million-dollar corruption investigation into President Asif Ali Zardari. “Yousuf Raza Gilani has become disqualified from being member of the parliament,” said Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, reading the order. “The Election Commission is required to issue notification of disqualification… The president is required to take necessary steps under the constitution to ensure continuation of democratic process through parliamentary system of government in the country.”

The bench had been hearing a set of petitions filed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and others. The petitions by pro-Tailban right-wing parties are widely believed to have a nod of Pakistan’s military establishment.

Supreme Court of Pakistan today axed the will of 180 million Pakistanis, who elected Prime Minister for 5-years.

Supreme Court’s action reminds us of 4 Apri 19l79 when Pakistan’s first elected PM Zuflikar Ali Bhutto was hanged by SC at the behest of General Zia-ul-Haq.

Dear CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry: PM Yusuf Raza Gilani released you in his first order as Prime Minister, you dismissed his government. Thank you!

Pakistan Parliament to elect new leader of the house. No over reaction to well calculated aggression by ISI-backed judges.

Peoples government will not over-react to aggressive tactics by the ISI-sponsored Judiciary and Media. We will fight with patience.

Dear Supreme Court & Pakistan Army, you want to play 20/20, we are interested in test match. We won’t over react. From: Pakistani nation

Khaki masterminds of the Judicial Coup in #Pakistan want to instal their friend Sherry Rehman as PM in Islamabad. People of Pakistan will foil all attempts by the 3-J trio (Jenerals, and pro-army Judges & Journalists) to derail democracy in Pakistan. We will fight with patience, we will persevere. God willing.

Copy of the court order
(Original Jurisdiction)

Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, HCJ.
Mr. Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja
Mr. Justice Khilji Arif Hussain
Const. Petition No.40 of 2012 & CMA No.2494/12
Muhammad Azhar Siddique Vs. Federation of Pakistan etc.
Const. Petition No.41 of 2012 & CMA No.2495/12
Imran Khan Vs. Federation of Pakistan etc.
Const. Petition No.42 of 2012
Kh. Muhammad Asif Vs. Federation of Pakistan etc.
Const. Petition No.43 of 2012
Syed Zafar Ali Shah Vs. Federation of Pakistan etc.
Const. Petition No.44 of 2012
S. Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi Vs. Federation of Pakistan etc.
Const. Petition No.45 of 2012
Ch. Khalid Farooq, ASC Vs. Federation of Pakistan etc.
Const. Petition No.46 of 2012 & CMA 2496 OF 2012
Shahid Naseem Gondal, Adv. Vs. Federation of Pakistan etc.
Const. Petition No.47 of 2012
Ch. M. Asghar Saroha etc. Vs. Mohtarma Dr. Fehmida Mirza,
Speaker National Assembly etc.
Const. Petition No.50 of 2012
Lahore High Court Bar Vs. Speaker National Assembly
Association, thru. Sh. Ahsan and others
ud-din, President of High Court
For the petitioners: Mr. A. K. Dogar, Sr. ASC
Mr. Azhar Siddique, ASC
Mr. Mehmood A. Sheikh, AOR
(in Const.P. No.40/2012)
Mr. Hamid Khan, Sr. ASC
Mr. M. Waqar Rana, ASC
S. Safdar Hussain, AOR
(in Const. P. No.41/12)
Kh. Muhammad Asif, MNA (In person)
(in Const. P. No. 42/12)
S. Zafar Ali Shah, Sr. ASC (in person)
(in Const. P. No.43/12)
S.Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi (in person)
(in Const. P. No.44/12)
Mr. Abdul Rehman Siddiqui, ASC
(in Const. P. 45/12)
Mr. A.K. Dogar, Sr. ASC
(in Const. P. 46/2012)
Khan Attaullah Tareen, ASC
Ch. M. Asghar Saroha, ASC
(in Const. P.47/12)
Mr. Taufiq Asif, ASC
(in Const. P. 50/2012)
On Court Notice: Mr. Irfan Qadir,
Attorney General for Pakistan
For Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani: Ch. Aitzaz Ahsan, Sr. ASC
For the Federation: Mr. Muhammad Munir Peracha, ASC
Mr. M.S. Khattak, AOR
For the Speaker, N.A: Mr. Muhammad Latif Qureshi,
Joint Secretary (L), N.Assembly
For the ECP: Mr. Muhammad Nawaz, Director (L)

Date of hearing: 14,15,18 & 19 June, 2012

Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, CJ.—

For reasons to be recorded later, the titled petitions are disposed of as under: –

(1) This Court in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan is
competent to ensure enforcement of the fundamental rights of the citizens in all matters of public importance;

(2) The Speaker of the National Assembly under Article 63(2) of the Constitution exercises powers, which are not
covered by the definition of internal proceedings of Majlise-Shoora, therefore, this Court, in exercise of power of
judicial review, is not debarred from inquiring into the order dated 25.05.2012. Reference in this behalf may be
made to the cases of Mining Industries of Pakistan (Pvt.) Ltd. v. Deputy Speaker, Balochistan Provincial Assembly
(PLD 2006 Quetta 36), Madad Ali v. Province of Sindh (1996 SCMR 366), Shams-ud-Din v. Speaker, Balochistan
Provincial Assembly (1994 MLD 2500), Muhammad Naeem Akhtar v. Speaker, Sindh Provincial Assembly (1992 CLC 2043), Farzand Ali v. Province of West Pakistan (PLD 1970 SC 98); Muhammad Anwar Durrani v. Province of Baluchistan (PLD 1989 Quetta 25); Jagjit Singh v. State of Haryana (AIR 2007 SC 590) and Rajendra Singh Rana v. Swami Prasad Maurya (AIR 2007 SC 1305);

(3) As a Bench of 7 Hon’ble Judges vide judgment dated 26.04.2012 followed by the detailed reasons released on
08.05.2012 has found Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani guilty of contempt of Court under Article 204(2) of the Constitution
of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 and sentenced
him to undergo imprisonment till rising of the Court under section 5 of the said Ordinance, and since no appeal was
filed against this judgment, the conviction has attained CONST.PETIONS 40 OF 2012 ETC. 4 finality. Therefore, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) in terms of Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgment of this Court dated 26.04.2012 with all consequences, i.e. he has also ceased to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan with effect from the said date and the office of the Prime Minister shall be deemed to be vacant accordingly;

(4) The Election Commission of Pakistan is required to issue notification of disqualification of Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani from being a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora w.e.f. 26.4.2012; and

(5) The President of Pakistan is required to take necessary steps under the Constitution to ensure continuation of the democratic process through parliamentary system of government in the country.

2. We place on record our thanks and appreciation to learned counsel appearing for the parties for providing valuable assistance in deciding these petitions.

Islamabad, 19th June, 2012

PDF of supreme court short order dismissing the prime minister available here: http://bit.ly/MaejsT

Video report: Benazir Bhutto’s press conference against Punjabi-centric Supreme Court of Pakistan

Video report: Iftikhar Chaudhry taking oath under PCO – 30 June 2005

Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's longest serving elected Prime Minister, remains people's PM

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  • Abdul Nishapuri ‏@AbdulNishapuri
    Judicial offence on democracy can be foiled on through political defence (patience and wisdom). #JudicialCoup #Pakistan

    PPP workers must refrain from clashes with ISI-backed PTI & PML-N demonstrators in Punjab’s streets. Don’t fall in their trap

    PPP accepts Supreme Court’s decision under protest. Judicial Coup will be foiled through patience and perseverance. No clash!

    No unconstitutional letter will be written to Swiss courts. Come what may! #PPP #JudicialCoup #Pakistan

    Ravez Junejo ‏@ravezjunejo
    @AbdulNishapuri Whether any1 else is happy or not at PM’s disqualifcation, Raza Rumi must be on Cloud 9! His wish for #Gillani came true! 😡

    Abdul Nishapuri ‏@AbdulNishapuri
    #LUBP Post: Pakistan army sponsored #JudicalCoup in Pakistan http://shar.es/suPhb Includes copy of court order.

    Prince Ali ‏@dhahri_prince
    You Can Disqualify Us From Offices! Can U Disqualify Us From Peoples’ Hearts?? #JeayGillani #JeayBhutto

    Ravez Junejo ‏@ravezjunejo
    Only in #Pakistan does the Supreme Court absolve dictators who break the law and punish elected premiers who follow it! #PPP @BakhtawarBZ

    Shehryar Taseer ‏@shehryar_taseer
    Chief Justice Pakistan has staged a Judicial Coup against the democratically elected Government of PM Gillani #Pakistan #Islamabad #gillani

    Aseefa B Zardari ‏@AseefaBZ
    PM Gillani I will stand by you the way you stood by Shaheed Mothrama Benazir Bhutto and President Zardari !

  • Instead of blaming Supreme Court, think about poor case presented by Aitzaz Ahsan and Attorney General.

    Supreme Court gave a good decision in the light of arguments presented.

  • Cry cry LUBP babies.

    We at pkpolitics, Teeth Maestro, Citizens for Democracy, and My Bit for Change are celebrating.

  • Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his party continue to be punished by the courts. Ongoing tragedy.

    Pakistan is doomed.

  • بلوچستان کی قوم پرست جماعت نیشنل پارٹی کے سربراہ اور سینیٹر میر حاصل خان بزنجو نے سپریم کورٹ کے فیصلے پر افسوس کا اظہار کیا ہے۔
    ان کے مطابق ’یہ بڑی بدقسمتی ہے کہ سپریم کورٹ پاکستان کے وزیراعظم کو نااہل قرار دے تو اسے زیادہ بری صورت حال کیا ہوسکتی ہے وہ بھی ایسی صورت حال میں جب آپ پوری دنیا میں تنہائی کا شکار ہیں۔‘
    ان کا کہنا ہے کہ اس فیصلے کی وجہ سے عالمی سطح پر ملک پر بہت خراب اثرات مرتب ہوں گے اسی لیے میں سمجھتاہوں کہ اس فیصلے سے ملک کو خاص طور پر جمہوریت کو بہت بڑا نقصان ہوا ہے۔


    19 جون: سپریم کورٹ نے اپنے فیصلے میں کہا کہ یوسف رضا گیلانی آئین کے آرٹیکل تریسٹھ ایک جی کے مطابق چھبیس اپریل کے عدالتی فیصلے کے اعلان کے وقت سے قومی اسمبلی کے رکن نہیں رہے۔ عدالت کے مطابق وہ اسی تاریخ سے ملک کے وزیرِاعظم بھی نہیں رہے اور یہ عہدہ اس دن سے خالی تصور کیا جائے۔ عدالت نے الیکشن کمیشن آف پاکستان کو بھی حکم دیا ہے کہ وہ چھبیس اپریل سے ہی یوسف رضا گیلانی کی مجلسِ شوریٰ کی رکنیت ختم کرنے کا نوٹیفیکیشن جاری کرے۔
    18 جون: وزیراعظم کی حمایت میں قومی اسمبلی کی سپیکر کی رولنگ سے متعلق دائر درخواستوں کی سماعت کے دوران اٹارنی جنرل عرفان قادر نے کہا کہ عدالت اس معاملے میں اپنے دائرۂ اختیار سے تجاوز کر رہی ہے۔
    14 جون: اسی دن وزیراعظم گیلانی کے وکیل اعتزاز احسن نے اپنے موکل کے بارے میں قومی اسمبلی کی سپیکر کی رولنگ سے متعلق درخواستوں پر دلائل دیتے ہوئے کہا کہ وزیراعظم کو دی گئی سزا کا مطلب نااہلی نہیں اور اگر کسی رکن پارلیمان کو دو سال سے کم سزا دی جائے تو وہ نا اہل نہیں ہوتا۔
    14 جون: پاکستان کی قومی اسمبلی سے حکومت نے ایک قرار داد منظور کرائی ہے جس میں کہا گیا کہ وزیراعظم کو نااہل قرار نہ دینے کے بارے میں سپیکر کی رولنگ کو آئین کے مطابق کسی فورم پر چیلنج نہیں کیا جا سکتا۔
    6 جون: وزیراعظم کے خلاف توہین عدالت کے مقدمے میں سزا ملنے کے باوجود عہدے پر فائز رہنے اور سپیکر کی رولنگ سے متعلق دائر درخواستوں پر وفاق، وزیر اعظم یوسف رضا گیلانی اور قومی اسمبلی کی سپیکر ڈاکٹر فہمیدہ مرزا کو اظہار وجوہ کے نوٹس جاری کر دیے گئے۔


  • سپریم کورٹ میں کیا ہوا
    شہزاد ملک
    بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، اسلام آباد
    آخری وقت اشاعت: منگل 19 جون 2012 ,‭ 13:38 GMT 18:38 PST
    دوست کو بھیجیں
    پرنٹ کریں

    سماعت کے دوران بھی اعتزاز احسن ماضی کے برعکس کافی خاموش دکھائی دے رہے تھے
    سپریم کورٹ میں منگل کی صبح سے ہی فضاء میں’کسی بڑے فیصلے‘ کا احساس موجود تھا۔
    گزشتہ کئی روز سے اس مقدمے کی سماعت کے دوران ججوں نے جو ریمارکس دیے اور جس جلدی میں فیصلہ سنانے کی کوشش دکھائی دی اُس سے محسوس ہورہا تھا کہ شاید ججوں نے فیصلہ کر لیا ہے بس اب اسے سنانے کی دیر ہے۔
    اسی بارے میں
    سپریم کورٹ نے وزیراعظم یوسف رضا گیلانی کو نااہل قرار دے دیا
    وزیراعظم گیلانی کی نااہلی: ٹائم لائن
    وزیرِاعظم گیلانی کے چار سال
    متعلقہ عنوانات
    پاکستان, عدالتیں
    منگل کو جب عدالتی کارروائی کا آغاز ہوا اور سپریم کورٹ کے تین رکنی بینچ نے سہ پہر تین بجے کے بعد فیصلہ سُنایا تو وزیر اعظم کے وکیل اعتزاز احسن اور اٹارنی جنرل عرفان قادر کمرہ عدالت میں موجود نہیں تھے۔ دونوں فیصلہ سُنائے جانے سے دو گھنٹے قبل ہی کمرہ عدالت سے چلے گئے تھے۔
    بعدازاں معلوم ہوا کہ ان افراد کو اعلیٰ حکومتی شخصیت نے مشاورت کے لیے طلب کیا تھا۔ اس سے بھی محسوس ہوتا تھا کہ وزیر اعظم کے وکلاء کو فیصلہ ’اچھا‘ نہ آنے کا احساس ہوگیا تھا۔
    سماعت کے دوران بھی اعتزاز احسن ماضی کے برعکس کافی خاموش دکھائی دے رہے تھے۔ فیصلہ سُنائے جانے کے بعد وکلاء نے سپریم کورٹ کے احاطے میں چیف جسٹس اور موجودہ عدلیہ کے ججز کے حق میں نعرے لگائے۔ ان کا نعرہ وہی جو نو مارچ دو ہزار سات کے بعد سڑکوں پر راج کر رہا تھا دوبارہ سنائی دیا۔
    ’چیف تیرے جانثار، بے شمار بےشمار‘ تاہم نئی اختراع ’مک گئی تیری کہانی، گو گیلانی گو گیلانی، سامنے آئی۔‘
    جب وکلاء کی ایک بڑی تعداد چیف جسٹس کے حق میں نعرے لگا رہی تھی تو حکمراں پیپلز پارٹی کا دفاع کرنے کے لیے محض دو خواتین موجود تھیں۔
    انہوں نے بڑی دلیری سے وکلاء کے سامنے موجودہ حکومت کے حق میں نعرے لگائے۔ تاہم اُن کی آواز ان وکلاء کے نعروں میں دب کر رہ گئی۔

    فیصلہ سُنائے جانے کے بعد وکلاء نے سپریم کورٹ کے احاطے میں چیف جسٹس اور موجودہ عدلیہ کے ججز کے حق میں نعرے لگائے
    گورنر پنجاب سردار لطیف کھوسہ کے بیٹے خرم کھوسہ پیپلز لائرز فورم کے ارکان کے ہمراہ موجود تھے تاہم اُنہوں نے بھی ان حالات میں چوری چھپے نکل جانے میں ہی عافیت جانی۔
    ان درخواستوں کی سماعت سے پہلے ہی کمرہ عدالت وکلاء اور صحافیوں سے بھرا پڑا تھا۔
    اٹارنی جنرل عرفان قادر نے دلائل شروع کیے تو اُنہوں نے ایک مرتبہ پھر سات رکنی بینچ کے فیصلے کو تنقید کا نشانہ بنایا تاہم جج اُنہیں بارہا روکتے رہے کہ وہ صرف اپنے دلائل کی حد تک اپنے آپ کو محدود رکھیں۔
    حکومت کی طرف سے وفاقی وزیر نذر محمد گوندل بھی سماعت کے دوران عدالت پہنچے تاہم بینچ کا موڈ دیکھنے کے بعد وہ بھی جلد ہی رخصت ہوگئے۔
    اس دوران کمرہ عدالت میں اُن وکلاء نے یلغار کر دی جو سپریم کورٹ کے وکیل نہیں تھے۔ ان وکلاء کا تعلق راولپنڈی سے ہے اور انہیں وکلاء کے حلقے میں’ٹرپل ون بریگیڈ‘ کے نام سے بھی پکارا جاتا ہے۔
    ان وکلاء کو دیکھنے کے بعد اٹارنی جنرل عرفان قادر کے لہجے میں جو اپنے دلائل میں جارحانہ انداز اپنائے ہوئے تھے نرمی آگئی۔

    منگل کی صبح سے سکیورٹی بھی معمول سے زیادہ دیکھنے کو ملی۔ غیرمعمولی سکیورٹی کا ایک اشارہ کمرہء عدالت کے باہر رینجرز کی موجودگی بھی تھی
    سپریم کورٹ کی انتظامیہ کی جانب سے سوموار کی شب ایک اعلامیہ جاری کیا گیا تھا۔ جس میں کہا گیا تھا کہ عدالت عظمیٰ کے کورٹ روم نمبر ون میں داخلہ صرف اُن وکلاء کا ہوگا جن کا اندراج سپریم کورٹ کے وکیل کے طور پر ہے۔
    یہ غیرمعمولی اعلان بھی کسی بڑے فیصلے کا پتہ دے رہا تھا۔ منگل کی صبح سے سکیورٹی بھی معمول سے زیادہ دیکھنے کو ملی۔ غیرمعمولی سکیورٹی کا ایک اشارہ کمرہء عدالت کے باہر رینجرز کی موجودگی بھی تھی۔
    عدالت نے عمران خان کے وکیل حامد خان اور اےکے ڈوگر کے دلائل مکمل ہونے کے بعد پاکستان مسلم لیگ نون کے ظفر علی شاہ کو بارہا بیٹھنے کو کہا۔
    آخر کار ظفر علی شاہ نے اپنی خفت مٹانے کے لیے کہا کہ ’جناب میں آپ کے حکم کے آگے سر تسلیم خم کرتا ہوں۔ میں کوئی اٹارنی جنرل نہیں کہ ہر بات پر ضد کروں۔‘ اس بات پر پورے کورٹ روم میں زور کا قہقہ بلند ہوا۔


  • Questions Surround New Supreme Court Order Disqualifying Prime Minister
    JUNE 19, 2012 •


    The Supreme Court of Pakistan removed the Prime Minister in what is known as a “short order” – essentially a court order lacking a full explanation. These orders often begin, “For reasons to be recorded later…” – a practice that seems the beg for abuse and controversy – and then proceed directly to ordering some specific action on the part of an individual or institution. In this case, though, the specific action was not given until almost two months later – and made retroactive.
    On April 26, the Supreme Court issued an order “for the reasons to be recorded later” that found then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani “guilty of and convicted for contempt of court.” The Supreme Court did not declare the Prime Minister disqualified from office and sentenced him to a symbolic detention of about 30 seconds.
    The Supreme Court having chosen not to disqualify the Prime Minister, the issue was then taken up by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, who ruled that Mr. Gilani was not disqualified. That was last month.
    Today, nearly two months after the Supreme Court issued its controversial conviction, a new short order, “for reasons to be recorded later,” was issued by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry – this time declaring that “Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)…on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgement of this Court dated 26.4.2012…”
    This raises several very interesting questions. If the Prime Minister was disqualified pursuant to the Supreme Court’s order on April 26, why did they wait until June 19 to say so? Some have suggested that the Supreme Court was giving the Prime Minister the opportunity for appeal, but this is doubtful for a number of reasons: One, the Supreme Court could have declared the Prime Minister disqualified and then stayed the order pending appeal. But more to the point, to whom would the Prime Minister have appealed? The original order was given by a 7 member bench of the Supreme Court – there was no higher authority to appeal to.
    Then there is the matter of the ruling by the Speaker of the National Assembly. If the Supreme Court had determined that Mr. Gilani was disqualified as of April 26, why did they allow Dr. Mirza to proceed with deliberations and a ruling on Mr. Gilani’s status as parliamentarian? If the Supreme Court believed that Dr. Mirza did not have the authority as Speaker of the National Assembly to issue such a ruling, why did they not issue an injunction stopping the Speaker from carrying out the act?
    While these questions remain unanswered, at least until the Supreme Court delivers more than the two pages made available today, they suggest very troubling possibilities. By allowing Mr. Gilani to continue serving as Prime Minister for months, the Supreme Court has created a policy nightmare for Pakistan. Making the disqualification retroactive to April 26 means that any decisions made by the government since are effectively nullified. Pakistan has, essentially, been operating without a government for over 8 weeks.
    Moreover, by allowing the Speaker of the National Assembly to deliberate and issue a ruling without comment, only to nullify that decision weeks later, the Supreme Court has undermined the authority of parliament and created confusion about fundamental issues of separation of powers and constitutional authority. What government official can now carry out their duties without the fear of Supreme Court action if the Chief Justice does not like the outcome.
    This gets to what is perhaps the most troubling question of all – would the Supreme have issued this new order had the Speaker of the National Assembly herself disqualified Mr. Gilani? In other words, is Pakistan’s Supreme Court acting pursuant to due process or desired outcomes?

  • Democracy under threat
    From the Newspaper | Asma Jahangir | 16 hours ago 61

    Rights activist and former SCBA president Asma Jahangir. — Photo
    THE masks are off and daggers drawn. Pakistan’s democratic process may once again become a part of history, leaving the world to wonder how we could so willingly poison ourselves in the belief that it would lead to better days.

    Those in power have consistently let their people down — ruthlessly. But no one is being fooled. They may feel helpless in the face of manipulation by everyone trying to save their skins — the judiciary included — but as the courts have often held themselves the truth does eventually prevail.

    In the meanwhile, the country is headed for another phase of political instability that may finally lead to yet another autocracy. Sense may prevail at the end, but in the process, many heads will roll and hopes will be demolished. These are sad days for Pakistan.

    Four years of democratic rule have given people little to rejoice about. Memories of dark nights and empty stomachs will begin to symbolise democracy. Political parties will be judged by their rowdy TV shows and insincerity. The judiciary remained the only institution in which people put their faith. Over the years that too has eroded. Many judgments appear self-laudatory and judged with different yardsticks. Those who follow constitutional rulings may disagree on every aspect of the judgments delivered by the Supreme Court (SC), but there is ample evidence to show that the standards applied in the selection of suo motu cases, the admissibility of cases under Article 184(3) and the process adopted do not follow similar criteria.

    The Arsalan Iftikhar judgment is no exception. An additional note from one honourable judge is perhaps the only sobering part of the entire judgment that otherwise appears weak in its reasoning and strong in paying tribute to itself.

    Justice Khilji Arif Hussain’s additional note says “while we as judges are particularly in the public domain, all persons exercising state functions are in the eyes of the people. Although family members of public functionaries are, properly speaking, not performing state functions, the alleged facts of this case highlight the necessity of extreme caution and discretion in their private and public dealings and conduct”.

    Judges ought to be judged on the basis of the level of integrity they display and the quality of their judgments, not by the numbers of followers they have in the bar rooms while they serve on the bench.

    Similarly, the independence of bar associations lies in being objective, professionally sound and judged by the quality of deliberation at the premises, not by the rumpus created during meetings. They must not be seen to please either the judiciary or the executive. Their agenda should be led by principles, not the position taken by any political party.

    Debarring members of the legal fraternity from bar associations without due process is objectionable. Intimidating lawyers from accepting a brief is not the practice of independent bar associations. Even criminals accused of genocide had legal counsels. How does debarring and intimidating fellow lawyer promote the rule of law or the independence of the bar and bench?

    Arsalan Iftikhar’s case has disturbed the legal fraternity that suspects a dubious business tycoon has been set up to defame the judiciary. This is entirely possible. Admittedly, the SC has irked the government and most recently the establishment too. The inference is strengthened with the Bahria tycoon claiming to have documented each transaction.

    Moreover, it is almost inconceivable, despite pleas of being driven to the wall, for a businessman to take the huge risk of exposing the son of Pakistan’s most powerful chief justice ever. On the other hand, it is argued that while traces of conspiracy are well founded, only someone with strong backing could have come forward and that the wealth accumulated by Arsalan Iftikhar is equally dubious.

    The matter may be a scam. Nevertheless it needs to be probed extensively. The SC ruling described it as a matter of the “gravest national importance”, but went no further and the matter was handed over to the attorney general, an executive appointee. This appears illogical, as he represents the very executive that is suspected of hatching this sleazy conspiracy. Will Arsalan Iftikhar get justice from such an executive? The SC should have given the matter greater thought.

    On the other hand, if Arsalan Iftikhar is indeed guilty of misdeeds would an already beleaguered executive dare say so and be believed? Any such adverse finding against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar would eventually bring the jiyalas of the PPP and the jan nisaris of the honourable chief justice in direct confrontation. That could be embarrassing for the judiciary that has no concern with the accusations.

    The attorney general is advised to handle the matter delicately and in a depoliticised manner. The probe must be impartial and transparent. The SC has often reiterated the need for unhindered access to information on matters of public importance and now is the time to test its words of wisdom.

    The Arsalan Iftikhar case and subsequent unethical disclosures in the media have finally convinced the superior judiciary of ensuring that the media follows a code of conduct. An earlier awakening may have spared some painful embarrassment, especially when a large number of suo motu cases were picked out of media reporting without any verification.

    Being maligned in the media hurts but when this reaches the highest echelons of the judiciary it becomes a permanent smear. Judiciaries must be as sensitive to the reputation of others as they are to their own. At the same time, they are the custodians of freedom of expression and speech, thus restrictions on the media must be balanced so that this precious right gained after decades of struggle is not compromised in any way.

    The media must regulate its own code of conduct; its freedom cannot be compromised and restrictions on it must not be applied from outside unless, it incites violence, like in the case of Rwanda.

    The courts have powers under contempt of court to restrain the media from interfering in the administration of justice. Denials should be fairly displayed and defamation cases effectively dealt with by the media. There are enough laws to keep the media in check if these are effectively and properly used in a balanced manner. The worst outcome of the Arsalan case will be to unwittingly pressure the media into self-censorship. It is better to respect its freedom, even when it errs, rather than gag it with heavy guidelines from the outside.

    Sadly, the democratic process may prove shortlived. The establishment has played its cards well. It has masterfully used the hands of civilian institutions to cut each other down to size.

    There will be no winners as the one who survives will also suffer in isolation. A mere stroke will paralyse the victor too. After all, democracy rests on all three pillars of the state and no one pillar alone can bear the weight of this complex system. We are moving fast in this unfortunate direction and unless we reverse it now, it may be too late.

    The writer is a prominent lawyer and human rights activist


  • I blame Honb’le CJ for delaying the justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.
    Had this historical judgement been deivered 2-3 years back,our beloved Pakistan would not have been facing chaos,hooilganism,napotism,terrorism,depression,load shedding,poverty and would not have been about the virge of declaring it a failed state. This corrupt government has pushed Pakistan into dark age.
    Anyway somebody has rightly said “Better late than never”.