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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Justice Gulzar to replace CJP Asif Saeed Khosa: Man who revolutionized judiciary

Justice Gulzar is to replace Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, a man who changed the course of the judiciary through several procedural as well as substantive reforms. The incoming CJP is expected to follow the same course at the same pace.

The Ministry of Law and Justice on Friday forwarded a summary to the Prime Minister’s Office for the appointment of Justice Gulzar Ahmed as the new chief justice of Pakistan (CJP). Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who became the country’s top judge in January last year, is retiring on December 20 this year. Experts believe that Justice Khosa has been a remarkable CJP who introduced various structural reforms in the judiciary to ensure speedy and cheap justice. He is known for making efforts to end the blockage of cases across the country.

Following Justice Khosa’s retirement, Justice Gulzar will take oath as the 27th CJP and serve until February 1st, 2022.

Justice Gulzar was born in Karachi on February 2, 1957. After completing his education in law, he pursued his career as a lawyer and initially served at the Sindh High Court (SHC) in 1986. Subsequently, in 1988 he elevated to the Supreme Court of Pakistan as an advocate.

Justice Gulzar was sworn in as SHC judge on August 27, 2002, and became the apex court’s judge on November 16, 2011.

Justice Khosa’s Legacy

Justice Khosa has passed some landmark verdicts; one of them was maintaining the conviction of Mumtaz Qadri–the murderer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer–in 2015. Some of his verdict notes have become a major talking point. Here are some of the most famous ones.

‘The Godfather’ Remarks

Justice Khosa headed the larger bench of Supreme Court hearing the Panama Paper case against the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and disqualified Mr. Sharif on the basis of Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution in 2017. The following are his remarks on Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution pertaining to the aforementioned case.

“This case is the first of its kind. We know the gravity of a declaration by the court and its effects for both the parties saying that someone was not honest. But we have to lay down parameters, otherwise, except for the Jamat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq, no one will survive.”

Read more: CJP Khosa announces model courts for speedy trials

Justice Khosa’s note in the aforementioned case began with the quote “Behind every great fortune there is a crime”– a reference to the famous ‘The Godfather’ dialogue of character ‘Honore de Balzac’– adding that “It is ironical and a sheer coincidence that the present case revolves around that very sentence attributed to Balzac.”

When he Quoted Shakespeare

The SC had acquitted Asia Bibi–a Christian woman falsely accused of blasphemy–on Oct 31, 2018. Justice Khosa was one of the members of a three-member bench. He wrote an additional note with the verdict, quoting verses from the Quran also criticizing the case. His words were, “Blasphemy is a serious offense but the insult of the appellant’s [Asia Bibi’s] religion and religious sensibilities by the complainant party and then mixing truth with falsehood in the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was also not short of being blasphemous.

It is ironical that in the Arabic language the appellant’s name Asia means ‘sinful’ but in the circumstances of the present case she appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King Leare [sic], ‘more sinned against than sinning’.”

From ‘Khalil Jabran’ to ‘Johne Donne’

Justice Khosa was part of the seven-member larger bench of the SC which heard the contempt of court proceedings against the former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. In May 2012, the SC ruled against Gillani, disqualifying him from holding the office of the Prime Minister.

Read more: Islamabad judges are working but lawyers have stopped working: Justice Khosa

Justice Khosa penned down a separate six-page note in which he– quoting famed Lebanese author Kahlil Gibran– wrote about “Pity of the Nation” and added a quote of Johne Donne [a famous English poet]. The note became a major talking point and a subject of media coverage all over the country.

Expectations from the incoming CJP

Justice Gulzar is expected to continue the path Justice Khosa has followed. The provision of speedy justice through model courts has significantly restored public confidence in the judiciary. Experts believe it needs to be continued if the country is to become a genuine democracy where rule of law is unchallengeable.