Sunday, July 29, 2007

Judges, Lawyers and Civil Society Ready to sacrifice everything for rule of law: CJ

Picture: AP (From NDTV)
Bench, bar ready to do all for rule of law: CJP
Daily Times, July 28, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that Pakistan’s judges, lawyers and civil society are now prepared to “sacrifice everything” to ensure rule of law and the Constitution.

“The last four months in our national history have changed something forever. I feel proud to say that not only the judiciary and 90,000-plus black-coated fraternity, but the entire civil society is ready to sacrifice everything to uphold the Constitution and achieve rule of law,” the chief justice said at the inaugural session of the Access to Justice Development Fund (AJDF) workshop organised by the Law and Justice Commission.

“We should draw lessons from our past history. Let us seize this defining moment in our history, wherein not only has the holder of a constitutional post been restored to his office, but the hope of a better future for the entire country stands revived,” he said.

However, Justice Chaudhry warned that the responsibilities of legal officers had now increased. “The people of Pakistan are today looking towards the bar and the bench. Let’s not fail them. Let’s not allow any unconstitutional or extra-constitutional measures to disrupt the smooth sailing of the ship of our destiny. Let the bar and the bench provides a vision and a direction for realising the dream of achieving good governance and across the board accountability,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of a free media. “Let’s together ensure the sustained growth of an independent judiciary and a fearless media for these two institutions are the guardians of public interest and rights,” he said.

He said the Supreme Court should be a symbol of hope for the people of Pakistan that they could get quick and inexpensive justice at their doorsteps. “Being chief justice of Pakistan and chairman of the Law and Justice Commission and National Judicial Policy Making Committee, I feel duty bound to focus my attention on judicial institutions and their capacity to respond to the legitimate expectations of our citizens,” he said. “Strong and well-functioning political, bureaucratic, judicial and civil society institutions and networks are a hallmark of a living society.”

Repeated constitutional deviations in Pakistan’s history hurt the judiciary, like other institutions, he said. The judicial institutions could not develop a self-sustaining mechanism and credibility to consistently exercise power of judicial review at the apex level and provision of quick and inexpensive justice at the doorsteps of the people, Justice Chaudhry said.

He said his Supreme Court had pursued a strategy to reduce the backlog of cases in the higher and lower courts. “I am cognisant of the fact that if we are successful in our delay reduction strategy, it will be a great service to the general public who are much troubled and grieved by the delays in the dispensation of justice.”

He said the Supreme Court had taken a major step by establishing a Human Rights Cell for the redress of grievances. “There has been an increase in public interest litigation in recent years, a trend which I expect will continue,” he said. The chief justice expressed satisfaction over the performance of the Law and Justice Commission and projects being completed through the Access to Justice Development Fund.

Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi and Justice M Javed Buttar of the Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court Chief Justice Haziq-ul-Khairi, Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sabihuddin Ahmed, Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Tariq Pervez and officials of the Supreme Court Bar Association also attended. app

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