–Chief Justice Nisar says courts have seldom tried people for contempt despite ‘so much criticism’
–Prohibits universities from granting affiliation to new law colleges, bars high courts and subordinate courts from issuing stay order in this regard
— Directs Punjab environment secretary to submit report after measuring scale of pollution at six different locations in province
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday said that the courts have seldom tried people for contempt [of the court] despite so much criticism against the judiciary.
In December last year, the CJP had asked those criticising the courts to “not malign the judiciary if the verdict is against them”, also clarifying that the judges were not taking “dictation” from anyone.
Addressing a ceremony here on Saturday, the CJP said that the current Supreme Court bench comprises people who are truly independent and hold up to the highest standards of integrity.
“Today, on this forum, I say that when I critically analyse my team, I never find any flaw,” he said. “Yes, there can be a lack of knowledge on this bench, and I would raise my hand and admit in front of you all that my knowledge is probably the least among my peers on the bench.”
“I believe that this team, once it starts working together, will be purer than gold and provide exemplary justice.”
Speaking to his fellow judges, Justice Nisar told the story of Lord Denning, a famous judge, and Mrs Stone.
“One day Mrs Stone threw a book at Lord Denning because she did not believe the judgement was fair. The book missed Lord Denning as he tilted his head and hit the wall behind him. He smiled and calmly remarked, ‘I am sure this wasn’t pointed at us.’ That is the level of calm judges are expected to show,” Justice Nisar explained as he concluded the story.
“If anyone believes that being an SC judge is a paid vacation, they should think again. Every judge has the responsibility of providing justice to the people. We will have to answer in front of God for the work we do here,” Justice Nisar warned members of the SC bar while adding that he expects the highest level of conduct from his bench.
“Being a judge is not about being able to pass whatever judgement one likes. It is about providing justice by the book. And if any of us cannot do that, we should retire and do something else.”
He added: “We are not here to have fun; we are here to give people exemplary justice.”
“I sometimes equate lawyers with doctors. Doctors cure physical ailments and lawyers cure the ailments of the society,” the CJP said.
The CJP also said that the country direly needed honest leadership, education and a strong judicial system to steer it away from the problems it was currently facing. He also praised the apex court’s bench and said that all judges were worthy of their position and carried out their duties honestly.
While welcoming members of the bar to the gathering, the chief justice said that the bar and the bench are two arms connected to the same body — one cannot function without the other. He further said that the judiciary played the role of a watchdog and was responsible for helping citizens to safeguard their rights.
Addressing the lawyers, the chief justice asked the bar and the lawyer community to maintain discipline among their ranks and strictly avoid engaging in vandalism. “We are for the supremacy of the parliament, and for democracy to sustain, it is important that institutions avoid encroaching upon each other’s jurisdiction,” he added.
BAR ON AFFILIATION OF NEW LAW COLLEGES:
Earlier, during a hearing of a suo motu case at the SC’s Lahore Registry regarding substandard law colleges, Chief Justice Nisar issued an order prohibiting universities across the country from granting affiliation to new law colleges, at the same time barring high courts and subordinate courts from issuing a stay order on the case.
The CJP ordered the vice chancellors of universities that have law college affiliates to submit a signed report detailing the admission criteria, the quota of students as well as the results produced by the colleges. He also formed a committee, that would be headed by lawmaker Hamid Khan, to introduce reforms in law colleges. He said that institutions must be strengthened instead of individuals since the latter keep coming and going.
The CJP regretted that the institutions of the country were being weakened and stressed the need for competent lawyers instead of those who “sold paan during the day and practised law in the evening”. He vowed to reform the standard of legal education in the country within six weeks.
The CJP dismissed the authenticity of the National Testing Service, saying that the system was no good since students who took the exam passed by cheating.
The chief justice at the start of the year had outlined the Supreme Court’s agenda for 2018, saying that the court would be focusing on human rights issues, particularly those relating to the people’s right to quality education and healthcare.
POLLUTION AT ALARMING LEVELS:
Separately, while hearing a suo motu case about the escalating environmental pollution in the province, Chief Justice Nisar said that days are not far off when people will have to use masks everyday to just breathe as pollution is rising at alarming levels, adding that the lives of people are at stake due to the pollution.
The CJP directed the secretary of the Environment Protection Department to submit a report after measuring the scale of pollution in Punjab at six different locations.
He warned that the secretary would have to face strict action if figures in the report are manipulated in any way.
During the hearing he asked the secretary about his most inefficient department and whether or not the secretary knew about the dangerous levels that the pollution has risen to.
CJP Nisar also took suo moto notice of the failure of hospitals to properly dispose off their waste, and directed the provincial health secretary to submit a report in this regard.