Address of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

Address of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

Islamabad: “No person was ever honoured for what he received. Honour has been the reward for what he gave.”

It gives me immense pleasure to be able to attend this notable gathering of first ever Life-Time Achievements Award Ceremony as an acknowledgement of rendering services to legal profession for more than 45 years. The strength of national institutions rests on many pillars, however, the most important aspect of such strength is the recognition of due respect accorded to the seniors representing the institution. I commend the High Court Bar Association Rawalpindi for conceiving this idea and drawing up this programme to acknowledge the services rendered by their senior colleagues from the adjoining districts and tehsils of Rawalpindi . These senior lawyers have put in a lifetime of commitment for the cause of rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Let me tell you here the fact that the lawyers’ movement in the post March 9, 2007 not only restored the legitimate judiciary to its rightful position but also contributed in initiating the discourse of need to have rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution in our country. I think this is the most enduring legacy of the lawyers’ movement as this discourse of rule of law is gradually permeating the ethos of society.

Rule of law is very important to achieve the object of good governance. The good governance in turn ensures that peoples’ rights are protected, constitutional guarantees are secured and safe and predictable environment is provided to the citizens to live a peaceful life. Thus the rule of law ensures that along with high and mighty the weak and the poor are provided a level playing field to achieve their legitimate aspirations and rise to their level of competency.

The lawyers community has earned great respect and honour which is an acknowledgment from the society for their scarifies in upholding the rule of law and independence of judiciary. Islam has emphasized much on building a society where no one is above the law irrespective of social or economic status. In this respect I recall a very thought provoking saying of our Holy Prophet wherein some interceded for a person who had committed theft:

“What destroyed the nations preceding you, was that if a noble amongst them stole, they would forgive him, and if a poor person amongst them stole, they would inflict Allah’s Legal punishment on him. By Allah, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad stole, I would cut off her hand.”[1]

This is the Islamic principle of equality – equality of rights, opportunities and before law. This is further explained in the following verse of Surah Al-Nisa:-

O believers! Stand firm for justice and bear true witness for the sake of Allah, even though it be against yourselves, your parents or your relatives. It does not matter whether the party is rich or poor- Allah is well wisher of both. So let not your selfish desires swerve you from justice. If you destroy testimony or decline to give it, then you should remember that Allah is fully aware of your actions.

The constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan in its chapters on fundamental rights and the principles of policy receives inspiration from these golden Islamic principles of law as well as norms of universal human rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The legal profession is a most noble and revered one. The founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah belonged to this profession. He has left behind rich legacy of standing by law and adhering to legal and constitutional norms in all situations and circumstances and led freedom struggle through parliamentary and constitutional means. The lawyers’ movement was inspired by the character and conduct of the Quaid.

Keeping in view the role of lawyers in our society, people posed their confidence in them and started idealizing this institution for administration of justice, which not only attracted the youth in joining this glorious profession but also the litigant public who thought it proper to have recourse to litigation. This resulted in unprecedented recourse to approaching the courts by litigants and those seeking remedies of grievances.

I often hear complaints of criminals being released on bail or acquitted by Court. This is unfair. Courts can punish and convict only on the production of valid evidence and competent prosecution.

It is very unfortunate that due to faulty investigation and week prosecution, the accused are not punished and the blame is cast upon the courts. We expect that other stakeholders of judicial system like police and prosecution departments should improve their performance so that strong cases are submitted before the court for disposal. In the mean time we have started to penalize delinquent Investigating Officers to ensure proper challans are submitted within time as enshrined in the law and procedure.

We have also issued instructions to the High Courts to ensure that backlog of cases is reduced and cases promptly decided as per targets set in the National Judicial Policy. We have directed that High Courts should conduct special inspection of various districts in their respective provinces where reportedly cases were not being disposed of as desired in the Policy. These inspection teams are being led by an Honourable Judge of the High Court and they are scheduled to visit the districts on 16th of this month. Furthermore strong penal action has been initiated against corrupt officials in the district judiciary. Dozens of judicial officers, many holding senior positions and support staff has been dismissed from service on the charges of corruption. A zero tolerance policy has been pursued as far as corruption is concerned.

We need to change the Katchery culture by eradicating corruption and improving the functioning of courts, so that swift and affordable justice is dispensed to the litigant parties. It will discourage the trend towards the use of force for resolution of disputes and persuade the people to approach the courts for redressal of all their grievances and injustices suffered.

As you know the National Judicial Policy was formulated with this objective in view. The Policy was prepared in consultation with all national stakeholders of the judicial administration of the country. We are always ready and welcome any change and amendment in the Policy. I expect that the larger legal community and particularly the Rawalpindi High Court and District Bar should provide us with well thought out and tangible recommendations to improve the output and efficiency of district Courts in the country. I will also expect them to identify the black sheep in their own ranks and take steps to prevent them from spoiling the reputation of this noble profession.

If we in the judicial institution of the country can put our house in order, especially reforming the district judiciary we will be rendering a national service for the litigant parties and those who approach the courts for seeking remedies for wrongs inflicted and relief against oppressive, unjust and arbitrary actions. This way, we can set example for other institutions to do necessary cleansings, so as to perform better and serve the nation.

I again congratulate the entire Cabinet of the High Court Bar Association Rawalpindi Bench for conceiving this idea of acknowledging the work and services of their seniors. I expect the Cabinet under the table leadership of Mr. Shoukat Aziz Siddiqui to also evolve strategies to reduce the incidence of corruption in the district Courts, put an end to motivated adjournments and facilitate in creating a friendly image of judiciary, thereby fostering an environment where in the general public should feel comfortable visiting the Courts and have the confidence to get justice in the shortest possible time.

This ceremony will be of great importance in the years to come. The junior lawyers should profit from the ideas and commitments of their seniors and work with devotion to serve the nation. Qualified, competent and service-oriented legal professionals are always a source of guidance and inspiration

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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