Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Chaudhry, addressing the Karachi Bar Association on Saturday said, “If the judiciary exercises its power of judicial review, nobody should feel threatened or aggrieved.” The CJ is right in saying that the judiciary can exercise its power to review decisions but it is also pertinent to mention here that some of these decisions can be seen as interference in the executive’s work. One of the Supreme Court’s (SC’s) recent decisions in the Hajj scam case comes close to interference if looked at closely. The SC wants Director General (DG) Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Waseem Ahmed, removed from his position. The apex court had recently observed, “More than once it has been observed that the FIA chief, who himself is holding this post on contract basis, is responsible for not allowing the investigation into the instant case to proceed in a transparent manner. However, despite these observations, no action has been taken against him.” The government has so far refused to relieve Mr Ahmed of his duties but has complied with some of the SC’s demands.The Establishment Division’s report said, “…in deference to the observations and order of the apex court, Ahmed’s power as FIA DG in three suo motu cases — embezzlement in the Pakistan Steel Mills, corruption in the National Insurance Company Limited and misappropriation in the 2010 Hajj affairs — has already been taken away from him.” The government is prepared to remove the FIA chief from controversial cases in compliance with the apex court’s demands while still keeping him on for a smooth running of the FIA. It is hoped that this decision will not lead to another executive/judiciary clash.CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry said that the executive is not happy with the judiciary sometimes when it works independently and justly “but fair and impartial dispensation of justice is imperative for the country to march ahead”. CJ Chaudhry correctly pointed out that dispensation of justice is important for Pakistan to progress. The people of Pakistan deserve fair and impartial trials and quick dispensation of justice. CJ Chaudhry also asked for an increase in the number of judges so that this goal could be achieved.
CJ Chaudhry hit the nail on the head when he said that the judiciary’s support of unconstitutional moves had created disorder in the past. We have seen that the judiciary has not only endorsed military dictatorships in the past but other unconstitutional decisions by the judiciary have landed this country in a great mess. The judicial murder of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is a stigma on Pakistan’s judicial history, among other things. Whenever a military dictator toppled a government, he got a stamp of approval for his extra-constitutional measures by the judiciary. The amendments made in the constitution by the dictators at various times in our history also had the support of the judiciary. It is hoped that the successful lawyers’ movement and the faith the Pakistani people have now put in our independent judiciary will bear some positive fruit. When millions of Pakistanis came out on the streets to support the restoration of CJ Chaudhry and his fellow judges, it was not just to oppose a military dictator’s wrong deeds but it was also a plea to the judiciary to reform the judicial processes in the country.Pakistan’s nascent democracy needs the support of all institutions of the state to set the system in order. The judiciary must play its role of keeping a check that nobody is allowed to cross the democratic parameters. Any unconstitutional move in the future must be thwarted by our fair and independent judiciary. They owe it to the citizens of Pakistan – Dailytimes