Political leaders suggest institutions should not interfere in affairs of others
ISLAMABAD: Like on all other issues, a fissure can be seen among leading political parties over the current role of the superior judiciary, especially the role of chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), as some of the parties want CJP to focus on reforming judicial system rather meddling in the affairs of other state institutions whereas some political parties believe that he is doing a commendable job since the government seems to be absent.
Talking to Pakistan Today, the leadership of almost all mainstream political parties was found divided over the rising suo moto notices being taken by the superior judiciary.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson and Federal Minister Mushahid Ullah Khan said that he wants all institutions to work under the constitutional ambit, and should not interfere in affairs of the others. He, however, suggested that an institution could only think of interfering in others’ affairs when it is fully satisfied with its own performance, and where all decisions were being made on merit instead of taking bribes from the poor.
Mushahid went on to say that CJP Saqib Nisar himself stated that decisions should be made in accordance with the law. He said that such decisions cannot be seen anywhere which indicated that the decisions were not being made on merit and in accordance with the law.
Hence, he advised that the CJP should make more efforts to ensure that decisions be made as per law as people won’t remember him for visiting hospitals, rather they would see what he did for reforming the judicial system.
The PML-N leader, however, lamented that an elected prime minister was thrown out for merely holding and ‘iqama’, while no action had been taken hitherto against a judge whose name appeared in the Panama Papers, which is why people will criticise such decisions. He added that the judges should not speak rather their decisions should speak which should be done on justice and merit.
Mushahid also suggested that the government should be allowed to do what it wants as people are their best judge and can settle their score in the elections. He added that if chief justice succeeded in ensuring proper judicial system in the country, lots of things would be settled automatically.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Qaiser Jamal said that the chief justice is playing an effective role as the SC took suo moto notices in various cases because the departments concerned and institutions did not play their part.
He cited the tragic example of Naqeebullah Mehsood’s murder where Sindh police did not play its role. Hence the SC took action and only then it came to the limelight that he was killed in a fake police encounter.
The PTI MNA said that it is true there are a lot of problems in the judicial system, which needed drastic reforms, but it doesn’t mean that the CJP should not take notices that helped address the sufferings of the public. He suggested that the SC, along with taking suo moto notices, should also issue directives to the departments concerned and officials to push them to do their duties diligently.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Senior Vice President Ajmal Khan Wazir said that that the incumbent judiciary has succeeded in restoring the public’s confidence on the country’s judicial system, especially in the wake of historic Panama verdict. He said that with the Panama decision, the public started believing that the rule of law has been established in the true sense in the country when a sitting prime minister was removed by the apex court.
Ajmal said that the effectiveness of the judiciary could be judged from the fact that the culprits in Zainab’s rape and murder case and the fake encounter of Naqeeb Mehsood were exposed only after the apex court took suo moto.
“Owing to the lack of trust in the government, the public at large is looking towards judiciary for addressing their woes; hence instead of criticising the judiciary, we should appreciate its role,” he added.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Awami National Party (ANP) senior leader Bushra Gohar said that all institutions must work within their Constitutional mandate and limits. The unelected must not encroach or be seen as encroaching the mandate of the elected. She said that the superior judiciary should focus on clearing the huge cases pending at all levels, allegations of corruption and non-transparency.
“Litigants spend decades and all their life’s earnings to get justice. However, all they can expect from the current system is new dates for hearing,” she added.
Bushra said that there is nothing wrong with the chief justice visiting hospitals, but considering the problems public faces in access to justice, one would have expected him to visit the district courts and address the challenges faced by the lower judiciary. “Corrupt practices reported at different levels within the judicial system need to be taken seriously,” she added.
She said that appointment and training of judges need to be reviewed and the judges should speak through their judgments and not through observations or media hypes.
“In my opinion, the judgments of Panama, Jahangir Tareen and Imran Khan’s cases have not strengthened public confidence in the justice system. It is on the contrary,” she said. These judgments, she added, have been viewed more as acts of political balancing.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Jamat-e-Islami Amir Professor Ibrahim Khan was of the view that the public concerns about the judiciary’s current role are justified somehow because there are a lot of issues in the judicial system which needs to be sorted out. He said that all institutions should work under the constitutional sphere and should not exceed the constitutional mandate as it created problems and misunderstandings.
However, ironically, the leadership of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) were quite reluctant to talk on the issue, as some refused to comment on it, few sought time but then could not respond, while others did not respond to repeated phone calls and text messages.