News Analysis |
The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar addressed a seminar on the National Judicial Policymaking Committee (NJPC) in Islamabad on Saturday. Judges from all courts of Pakistan were present in the seminar. While addressing the seminar, the CJP informed all the judges of their fundamental duties and requested them to keep aside their personal achievements for the service of the nation.
On democracy and PML-N complaints
In an apparent response to the allegations of Nawaz Sharif that the Supreme Court (SC) is transgressing its authority, the CJP emphasized that the trichotomy of power is the spirit of democracy and the judiciary is not part of any planning against the democracy. He vowed to protect democracy and announced that he won’t stay in his post if democracy was ever derailed.
According to media analysts, the Chief Justice has given a clear message that the SC will not be threatened or coerced into action or inaction but the fact that the CJP had to justify himself is a cause for worry.
Nisar urged judges to not come under any pressure after accusations of the judiciary being part of an anti-democracy campaign. He accepted that the judiciary has made some mistakes in the past, but went on to say that the judiciary will hold itself accountable to move beyond those mistakes.
Hinting at the threatening remarks made by some PML-N politicians, the CJP said, “there will be people who threaten the system and might claim that they will make your children’s lives difficult, but you have to bring these people to accountability,” to encourage the judiciary and make sure that they don’t act under any pressure. He urged them to rule in favour of justice, no matter what the consequences.
Working for the people of Pakistan
He stated that the job of the judiciary is to uphold the sanctity of the law and protect the basic human rights of citizens. The CJP assured the audience that he has not gone beyond his authority and the suo moto notices taken by him were to protect the rights of citizens.
The SC allows the option of every verdict to be challenged in case there is some error. Threatening the SC is equal to threatening the state itself according to legal experts.
The CJP said that the judiciary withdraws the highest salary from the government’s treasury – Rs 9 lakh for high court judges plus Rs 40,000 daily and Supreme Court judges are paid even higher – so the judges should work the hard to earn their salaries. He also urged them to work with passion and not treat their work like a job.
Media analysts believe that the CJP’s speech was a response to the allegations made against the judiciary by the former premier Nawaz Sharif in his speech on Friday about the future of democracy. Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N have started a tirade against the judiciary after the 28th July 2017 Panama Papers decision which disqualified Nawaz Sharif for not being ‘sadiq and ameen.’
The judiciary has been repeatedly accused by PML-N of being part of a big conspiracy to undermine democracy. Nawaz Sharif accused the judges of SC of taking oath under Musharraf’s Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and legitimizing his military dictatorship. Threatening remarks have been made against the judiciary by senior PML-N leaders Nehal Hashmi, Talal Chaudhry, Daniyal Aziz and Maryam Nawaz. Suo moto contempt of court notices has been taken against them by the SC, LHC and the IHC.
Political experts across the spectrum have criticized PML-N’s anti-judiciary rhetoric. The PML-N demands that the parliament and all the elected officials should be above accountability and scrutiny. Yet the spirit of democracy lies in dissent and accountability.
Many legal and constitutional experts are of the opinion that the judiciary has not overstepped its boundaries and the verbal onslaught of the PML-N is becoming a hurdle in the ‘real’ delivery of justice in Pakistani courts. The CJP is being forced on the defensive for himself and his institution against the allegations of the ruling party of Pakistan; this they argue is exactly what the ex-PM Nawaz Sharif has planned. Further, it is argued that politicizing the courts will create an imbalance of power which is the biggest threat to the judiciary.
Political experts across the spectrum have criticized PML-N’s anti-judiciary rhetoric. The PML-N demands that the parliament and all the elected officials should be above accountability and scrutiny. Yet the spirit of democracy lies in dissent and accountability. On the other hand, while the decisions of the Supreme Court are not above error, it holds a different position than the democratically elected leaders. The SC allows the option of every verdict to be challenged in case there is some error. Threatening the SC is equal to threatening the state itself according to legal experts.
According to media analysts, the Chief Justice has given a clear message that the SC will not be threatened or coerced into action or inaction but the fact that the CJP had to justify himself is a cause for worry. They believe the attacks against judiciary to be unethical, undemocratic and a threat to the stability of the whole system.