Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
Daily Times, May 26, 2006
* Justice Iftikhar says judicial independence key to a society based on justice, equality and constitutional rule
* People’s desire for independent judiciary ‘can’t be suppressed’
ISLAMABAD: Concentration of power in one hand can be dangerous, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry told a seminar on Separation of Power and Independence of Judiciary that was televised live nationwide from the Supreme Court Auditorium on Saturday night.
Speaking publicly in the Supreme Court for the first time since President Gen Pervez Musharraf “suspended” him about two months ago, Justice Chaudhry said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
He also said it was critical to maintain the separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government. “The courts must be independent,” Justice Chaudhry said in his 10-minute address. “Courts should remain free from the pressure of the executive.”
Justice Chaudhry said judicial independence was central to ensuring a society based on justice, equality, liberty, protection of human rights and constitutional rule. He said an independent judiciary “is a strong bulwark against abuse of power and tyrannical rule”. He said it was a difficult task to accomplish, adding that he was “thankful for the cooperation that I received from my brother judges and members of the bar”.
The chief justice said he would not say a word about the case that initiated against him and asked lawyers not to raise slogans during his address. He said the desire of the people for an independent judiciary “cannot be suppressed”.
Earlier, a string of speakers at the seminar bitterly condemned military rule and said Justice Chaudhry’s principled stand heralded a new era based on supremacy of the constitution and law. They paid tribute to him for refusing to step down despite intense pressure allegedly exerted by Gen Musharraf and his junta.
And they vowed that the struggle launched by lawyers would put Pakistan back on a democratic and civilised path. agencies