From judicial activism to judicial restraint


Will the new Chief Justice ensure justice?

The soon to be retired Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani took the first steps to distance the Supreme Court from the type of judicial activism that characterised former CJ Iftikhar’s era. Government leaders and top bureaucrats were no more dragged to the court for grilling in suo motu cases. While Jilani’s leniency emboldened bureaucrats who sometimes took months to file replies, it created conditions in which the government and bureaucracy could, if they so desired, take bold and quick decisions. There were no dramatic scenes in the court room and no remarks from judges appearing as tickers at the bottom of TV screens. A separate bench was constituted to clear the backlog of pending cases which helped common litigants. The decision ensuring the protection of the minorities’ rights would remain the landmark judgement of the retiring CJ. Compared to his predecessor, Jilani was less flamboyant but more practical.

Notwithstanding the excessive use of suo motu powers under CJ Iftikhar, it goes to his credit that he made Supreme Court accessible to the common man. The apex court also acted as a brake on immoderations on the part of the high and mighty. Judge Iftkhar was also a strong supporter of democracy. It would be unfortunate if there was a pendulum like swing to the other extreme in days to come. The healthy part of ex-CJ Ifitkhar’s heritage needs to be preserved.

Major challenges await Mr Justice Nasirul Mulk who has already been sworn in as the new CJ. He has to ensure that relations between the bench and the bar are cordial. He is to make certain that injustices being done to women and minorities are stopped and human rights preserved. The common man has to be provided cheap and timely justice. The slow and costly process of adjudication of cases has contributed to the spread of extremism. There is a dire need to improve the working of lower judiciary. Many will wait to see the measures the incoming CJ takes to improve the system.


  1. Welcome Justice Nasirul Mulk as the new Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP). For a change, a pleasant change, let’s see justice being done. First, and the foremost, take Suo motu of the mass killing of June 16/17, injuring nearly hundred people and another hundred missing, right at Model Town, Lahore by Punjab Elite Force and the Punjab Police. What was the necessity and urgency for using an extremely large force for removing legal barriers at midnight without prior notice to the Minhaj ul Quran. Also the goondaism and theft and loot carried out by the police that night. Than illegal appointment of Arslan Ifthikar son of EX-CJ Chaudhry Ifthikar, vacate Restraining orders given to politicians against vote recount; vacate stay orders of Sharif brothers against money laundering cases pending before the courts, the PEMRA and the GEO Group issue and the high-profile pending cases before the apex court must also be decided at priority.

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