Address of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to officers of 97th national management course

Address of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to officers of 97th national management course

Islamabad, November 05, 2012 (PPI-OT): Dean, National Management College
Faculty Members
Participants of the 97th National Management Course

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I take this opportunity to welcome you all in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The Supreme Court is the court of ultimate jurisdiction in this country. As a guardian and protector of the Constitution of Pakistan, a heavy responsibility lies upon the judges of the Supreme Court to uphold the canons of constitutional predominance and its supremacy over all other institutions and authorities.

The composition, powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court are set out by the Constitution itself. The Court exercises original, appellate, review and advisory jurisdictions and its decisions are binding on all other courts of Pakistan.

It gives me immense pleasure to address you, officers, who are being imparted specialized training for taking on higher responsibilities in your respective careers. It is my firm belief that strong institutions provide the bedrock for building everlasting mechanisms and sustaining socio economic, political and cultural growth and development. To establish and run these national institutions, we need a well trained and inspired bureaucracy which has the capacity and necessary means to anticipate the mounting socio economic challenges and come up with workable solutions both in the short and long run. For any developing country like Pakistan the basic requirements for enhancing national growth through competitiveness is pegged on the four pillars i.e. (i) strengthening of institutions, (ii) Infrastructure, (iii) economic stability (iv) Health and Education.

These four pillars form the foundation of achieving competitiveness for ensuring socio economic growth of our country. And these four drivers of growth can only deliver if you as civil servants put them to good use. In the last over couple of decades when I have had the good fortune of presiding as judge of the High Court and Supreme Court, I have noticed that the strength or weakness of these four drivers were directly related to the rise and fall of our national growth.

Institutions have assumed a significant place in the realm of socio economic growth. According to Mr. Douglas North, a Nobel Laureate in economics, institutions are simply the rules of the game in a society.

The growth and development of a society mainly depends upon the rules and regulations which it adopts for itself. If the rules and regulations create a level playing field and provide equal opportunity to all under the constitution and law, then a society is bound to grow. On the other hand, if the dice is loaded against the majority, the environment will generate frustration and distortions leading to chaos and restlessness in the society.

This proposition leads us to define what are the correct rules and regulations under the law? An appropriate answer to this proposition can only be framed if the other relevant queries are addressed:-

Do we reward merit and hard work? Are the twin principles of rule of law and supremacy of Constitution being strictly enforced?

Do the citizens of this country trust the system and think it provides them fair opportunity to realize their dreams in a transparent manner?

Does the present system have the capacity to discourage the corrupt and rent seekers?

Do we have a system where civil and property rights are protected and contracts are fully enforced?

If the answer to all these questions is resounding yes, then we can claim that the rules and regulations in practice here are transparent and fair. In such environment everyone will have the incentive to work hard and invest their energies and resources in their respective fields. But, if unfortunately, the answer to the above proposition is no, then I am afraid, the system is distorted and does not provide level playing field for the people to achieve in life whatever they are capable of. Unless we take a concerted effort to remove these distortions in our system it will be well nigh impossible to create favourable environment promoting competitiveness and growth.

The Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 envisages in detail many fundamental rights to the citizen of the country. These rights, inter alia, include right of individual to be dealt with in accordance with law; security of person; safeguard as to arrest and detention; right to fair trial; inviolability of dignity of man; freedom of movement; assembly, association; trade; business or profession; speech, information; freedom to profess the religion; protection of property rights; equality of citizens; right of education; safeguard against discrimination in service and last but not the least the promotion of social and economic well being of the people.

These fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution have to be implemented in letter and spirit. Primarily it is the duty of the State, and to a large extent to the executive organ of the State, to ensure that these fundamental rights are not only freely available to the people but any denial of these rights is swiftly responded to and relief is provided to the citizens at a minimum cost.

This is sine qua non of a truly independent and welfare State. Gone are the days when stability and security of the country was defined in terms of number of missiles and tanks as a manifestation of hard power available at the disposal of the State. Today, the concept of national security has been redefined as a polity wherein a State is bound to provide its citizens with overwhelming, social security and welfare nets and to protect their natural and civil rights at all costs. Thus, the executive branch of the country ably assisted by professionally trained civil service is bound to provide a conducive environment where the vast majority of people are able to make progress in various disciplines of their choices.

The present day Supreme Court is alive to the fact that it has been restored to its original position by unprecedented struggle carried out by a consort of such professional classes as lawyers, students, media persons and civil society at large. Now, they expect that judicial hierarchy of the country from the court of a civil judge to that of the court of highest appeal should deliver justice to all without fear or favour in a most expeditious manner. To achieve this object, after restoration, I utilized the forum provided by the National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC) by initiating a consultation process to assess the challenges of delay and backlog of cases and how to over come it. I take much satisfaction to say that after lengthy consultation we formulated National Judicial Policy (NJP) 2009.

The main crux of the Policy is to tackle conjoined menace of backlog and delay in disposal of cases. So far, the Policy has been revised a number of times and by the grace of Allah Almighty, it has delivered maximum dividends in terms of reduction of pendency and clearance of huge backlog of cases.

This is not the end of the story, as the challenge is still on and I hope with cooperation of Bench and the Bar, the Policy will continue achieving its objectives. However, it is also important to point out that additional resources are required to establish new courts at district level to cater for ever increasing number of newly instituted cases in the face of ever increasing population.

You may recall the words of Quaid-e- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah when he addressed Civil Servants and said that:- “You are the servant of the state. You have nothing to do with this political party or that political party, with this government or that government. The Prime Ministers come, the Prime Ministers go, but you go on.”

The gist of the message of our great Quaid was that the bureaucracy is one institution which is characterized by continuity. Therefore, you are doubly responsible for not only sharing your future vision and implementation plan with your political bosses but also ensuring that these plans are put into action without fear or favor. As professionals in the art of public policy and service delivery, it is your responsibility to inform the political leadership about the requirements of national competitiveness and growth.

Now a days the Courts are seized with many issues related to enforcement of constitutional provisions. Whether it is the issue of law and order situation in Karachi or Balochistan, the footprints of weak administration and failure of implementation framework is writ large everywhere. There seems to be no cohesive efforts in terms of a national framework wherein the mega issues have been tackled in an appropriate manner.

This institutional failure is directly linked to your ability to formulate national policies in the field of public policy. It also indicates the failure of implementation in cases where some forms of policy measures were recommended. However, all is not lost yet. We have now a very conducive environment to achieve growth and harmony.

We have a vibrant media playing an effective role of whistle blower and watchdog of public interest. We have a healthy mix of political parties in the country jostling for political space with a common agenda of public welfare and last but not the least we have a truly independent judiciary which is geared to ensure the twin principles of rule of law and supremacy of constitution are enforced even if the heaven may fall.

This judiciary has been trying to rewrite the constitutional and political history of this country by not only atoning sins of the past but also setting up new precedents ensuring transparency, rule of law and fundamental rights are enforced as enshrined in the Constitution. Many landmark judgments have been pronounced wherein institutions are directed to keep within their limits and let system grow.

In some judgments the civil servants have been directly addressed and asked to stick to the rules and regulations come what may. In F-9 Park case reported as PLD 2010 SC 759 the Court observed that the holders of the public offices should adhere to the principle of transparency in the discharge of their duties and should refrain from implementing any order of a higher authority which is contrary to the rule and regulations.

In the Karachi as well as Balochistan law and order situation cases, the Court laid stress on improved administration through induction of qualified civil servants on merit and their impartial performance of functions for good governance. In the case of Tariq Aziz ud Din wherein the petitioner challenged the promotion or more the 50 bureaucrats to B-22, the Court struck down the notification under its power of judicial review. The Court observed that the government should frame rules and policy in order to enable the deserving civil servants to get their promotions by virtue of their qualifications, performance evaluation and experience.

In the end I will again reiterate you to make the best of this training opportunity and gain useful knowledge and techniques to apply in your day to day job. Since most of you will be aspiring for highest positions of responsibility in your respective careers, it is incumbent upon you to broader your vision and learn from each others’ experiences and also adopt the regional and international best practices in the field of public policy and service delivery.

There should be one single object in your mind and i.e. to make the service delivery to the people of Pakistan who are directly or indirectly footing the bill for your careers in public service. Regarding the institution of judiciary, as mentioned earlier, the National Judicial Policy gives us a clear direction to take on the challenge of pendency and backlog of cases in the judicial system in the country. Here, I must share with you the fact that without asking the government for a change in national laws or regulations we have initiated reform process within ourselves. We have stretched ourselves to provide expeditious justice to the people despite the absolutely low number of judicial officers vis-à-vis ever rising population.

It is my firm belief that unless and until we reform ourselves individually and institutionally and until and unless we rise above our petty conflicts and unite our energies for the cause of our national growth and prosperity the dreams of our nation cannot be realized. But as I have said earlier we have necessary means both in terms of manpower and institution.

We only need to be little more imaginative and dedicated and professional in our approach to provide a framework wherein all citizens of the country can plan their life in a predictable, secure and equal opportunity based environment. This is the recipe for our national success. And you have to play a dynamic role in achieving this success.

Thank you.

For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001

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