A question mark on Pakistan’s top Judiciary: Shafaqna Special

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Pakistan’s Judiciary has always remained a in lime light due to many reasons not only in past but also in present. Being a Supreme and Top institution to protect the constitution of Pakistan, it is always under microscope. The recent decision of the Supreme Court against senior Justice Qazi Faez Isa has set a new precedent which has created a rift with the judiciary. Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed restrained the judge from hearing any cases involving the prime minister as he has filed a case against him in his personal capacity.

The top court also disposed of a case against the prime minister against the issuance of Rs500 million funds to each parliamentarian. Justice Faez Isa had taken notice of the incident amid media reports and some unknown message he had received on WhatsApp which could not be proved as genuine. The prime minister denied the funds were given to parliamentarians for development schemes.

The Chief Justice barred the judge from hearing any case involving the prime minister as it would lead to a conflict of interest. The case was also disposed with an observation that there had been a contest between a judge and the prime minister. The incidents are an attempt to create an unnecessary rift between the judiciary and the executive and must be avoided.

Mr Justice Faez Isa of the Supreme Court is no stranger to controversy, and even before he becomes Chief Justice of Pakistan, of which he has legitimate expectancy, his judgements have caused enough disturbance in certain circles for the government to attempt to remove him. Though he surmounted that challenge, a new one has apparently been posed by the judgement of the incumbent CJP, Mr Justice Gulzar Ahmad, which says he should not serve on any bench hearing a case in which the Prime Minister is involved, as Mr Justice Isa has filed a petition against the Prime Minister.

This has given an opportunity to opposition specially PML-N vice president to  lambast the written order by none other than the country’s top judge. Disregarding Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed for asking Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa for not hearing cases involving Prime Minister Imran Khan, Nawaz believes this development “is not good for the credibility and respect of the judiciary.” In a desperate attempt to raise her party profile as part of the ongoing election campaign, the leader pointed to completely different “decisions and…remarks” when it was her father’s turn to face the court. Whether the opposition parties are on the same frequency as the chief justice on Justice Isa’s case, it takes tremendous lack of wisdom to target the judiciary supremo. Already, deadly fires have been stoked on the domain of contempt of court.

However, Chief Justice of Pakistan, must also ensure element of impartiality in his house. he Chief Justice should realise that a quiet conversation with Mr Justice Isa might have been more productive than the issuing of an order, which does seem, as Mr Justice Isa suspects, to be more aimed at getting favorable press than anything else.

One of the more unfortunate consequences of this episode would be to lower the prestige of the judiciary in the eyes of the public. The purpose of recusals is to avert charges of partiality. Now the possibility of subservience to the executive cannot excluded. The value of the judiciary being trusted by society at large cannot be over-estimated, and anything tending to militate against this must be deplored. One of the most important, yet intangible, forces allowing courts to have their orders obeyed, is public trust. Any erosion of that trust must be deplored.

Shafaqna Pakistan

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