ISLAMABAD:Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that whenever a country is ruled by the chosen representatives under the dispensation of constitution, the system of good governance is strengthened.Delivering his key note address at the inaugural session of the 17th Commonwealth Law Conference in Hyderabad, India on Sunday, he said the existence of an independent judiciary was all the more necessary for the enforcement of fundamental rights, trade and commercial activities in accordance with law and Constitution.Dilating upon the theme of Conference “Emerging economies and the rule of law: opportunities and challenges,” he referred to the topic of rule of law and said it bore a substantial impact on the economic development across the globe.“The judiciary of Pakistan has passed through different phases where efforts by adopting unconstitutional measures had been made, but the judiciary ensured its independence in all the circumstances because it is of the opinion that when there is constitutionalism and rule of law, it guarantees a democratic system in the country instead of military rule,” a press release received here quoted him as saying.He said strong constitutional and legal framework was all the more necessary to establish rule of law. The Constitution of a State being the supreme law kept every organ of the state autonomous and independent, yet subject to certain limitations and restrictions, but at the same time, ensures supremacy of the law, which was essential for economic development of a country.Referring to 3rd November 2007 steps, he said, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the judiciary which had achieved independence by covering some distance, asserted itself and the Supreme Court declared those measures as unconstitutional and illegal in its landmark order on the same day. The superior judiciary, sacked by adopting unconstitutional devices, was ultimately restored and the democratic Government did not validate or condone the acts and actions taken by the military ruler, he added.The Chief Justice said the constitutionalism and rule of law guaranteed enforcement of human rights and thus helped flourish industrial and commercial activities.“Rule of law and equality before law are the hallmark of Islamic thought and philosophy, which derives its authority from the holy Quran and traditions of the Prophet,” he added.
After alluding to the history of Rule of Law, he said this concept was further developed by the International Commission of Jurists, known as Delhi Declaration, 1959 and according to it this formulation, it implied that the functions of the government in a free society should be so exercised as to create conditions in which the dignity of man as an individual was upheld.“This dignity requires not only the recognition of certain civil or political rights but also creation of certain political, social, economic, educational and cultural conditions, which are essential to the full development of his personality,” he added.Elaborating his point view, he said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 aimed at protecting these rights and setting out guidelines for the Member States to formulate policies and prescribed standards for securing these rights.The two international covenants i.e., International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966, further obligate the Member States to take concrete measures in making these rights available to its citizens as well as foreign nationals on its soil, he added.About Pakistan Constitution and role of judiciary, he said, it had given necessary powers to the Supreme Court to protect the fundamental rights.
The Court took umpteen suo motu notices in ordinary cases and some various high profile cases of human right violations including the famous case of the Darshan Mashi, the system of bonded-labour, the Kite-flying case, the New Murree Project and the illegal allotment of space for the fast food outlet in a public park at Islamabad, National Reconciliation Ordinance and Pakistan Steel Mills etc, he added.He said: “The Judiciary has to safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens including the right to life, liberty with its wide connotation and right to property. The Courts have attempted to restore and enhance the confidence of all citizens and persons including the trade, commercial and industrial class and foreign investor in the system of governance in the country.”
About role of judiciary he further elaborated that the judiciary as an important organ of the State played a key role in financial and economic discipline, promotion/strengthening of the democratic institutions and ensured development of projects.He said the judiciary, as a matter of fact has jurisdiction over all matters of justiciable nature. Being an institution of the highest value in a society, the Judiciary has to work impartially, without being influenced directly or indirectly, by the whims of other institutions or partisan interests.“Its decisions and rulings have impacts on the system of governance. A reformed and modernized legal system, administered through an efficient system of judicial administration, go a long way in resolving conflicts, settling disputes, restoring rights/entitlements and redressing grievances, which in turn, leads to peace and tranquillity in society,” he added.
He said such an environment was ideal for trade and commercial activities, investment and industrialization, leading to economic growth and prosperity.The economic stabilisation and progressive growth of a developing country depended much upon the enforcement and implementation of trade laws and policies, he added.The CJP said Pakistan being a member of the World Trade Organization has also promulgated various Acts and Ordinances so as to bring itself at par with the international standards, in terms of observance of trade laws and trends.To the subject of accountability in judicial system, he said transparency and accountability of the judicial institution indeed contributed towards establishing judicial independence.“The open and transparent operation of judicial systems builds the confidence of the public at large by ensuring commercial activities of the emerging economies, establishing rule of law, and protection of human rights. It generates an increased flow of information from the judiciary to the society, thus informing the public about its performance and to notice its shortcomings,” he added.
He said although the Constitution accorded a separate existence to the judicial institution, at the same time it also lays down parameters for its accountability and transparency.The Article 209 of the Constitution of Pakistan in express terms subjected the judges of superior courts to accountability. The Supreme Judicial Council being the creation of the Constitution itself empowers the Council to take action, in accordance with law, against the delinquent Judges, in case of misconduct in accordance with law, he added.About the objectives of the Conference, he said it would serve like a beacon for those who stand for human rights and rule of law in society, including the investors, financers and traders.He said it was in the interest of every country, region and indeed the whole world both developing and the developed, to uphold the principle of rule of law, transparency and accountability not only in the affairs related to the domestic administration but in the International arena as well.He also appreciated the role of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) as a professional association of lawyers – APP