Justice now | Political economics


he Supreme Court restored the National Assembly on Thursday after declaring the president’s decision to dissolve the assembly and the decision of NA Vice President Qasim Suri against the constitution. The five-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial read the short order and reinstated the National Assembly.

Legal experts had called the speaker’s action unconstitutional. The united opposition had called it subversion within the meaning of article 6 of the constitution and had accused the prime minister, the justice minister and the vice president of treason.

Historically, the role of the Supreme Court has been questioned and the conduct of judges questioned in Pakistan due to their rulings being seen as compromised. Recently, the senior Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, in a letter to the Chief Justice, raised concerns about the formation of the benches and an instruction to set a reference by the President which does not was not yet to be filed.

He also questioned the role of the clerk of the supreme court and his affiliation to the administrative services. However, the Chief Justice defended his position by finding that these concerns were unfounded because assigning cases and forming benches was an administrative function.

These concerns aside, the Chief Justice of Pakistan along with other judges must demonstrate that a strong and efficient judicial system is the backbone of the country. Pakistan’s judiciary must be strong, transparent, independent and accountable. In terms of its constitutional mandate, the Supreme Court can protect our most important fundamental rights, control crime, build investor confidence, ensure economic growth, and define the supremacy and rule of law, including the roles of all courts. lower. There should be no room to suggest that any of the judges consider themselves to be exempt from responsibility or are not transparent in their conduct.

Before the movement of lawyers, which is considered a turning point in our judicial history, the examples given by the higher judiciary were not encouraging. The people of Pakistan are clearly in favor of an independent judiciary. In recent years, their confidence in justice has been called into question.

Several leaders of bar councils and bar associations have also raised such concerns. Some have openly criticized some of the justices on issues directly related to the Supreme Court, such as the appointment of junior justices to the Supreme Court and ignoring seniority, the constitution of the benches and the involvement of senior justices in administrative matters. A deviation of the Supreme Court from its mandate can cause unrest in the country. Such an impression can also undermine the nation’s image in the global community and impact its social, political and economic position. When judicial activism is seen as higher courts deviating from their assigned roles due to political or personal preferences, their judgments become precedents for lower courts.

Pakistan is one of the countries where people have paid a high price for the independence of the judiciary. The historic movement of lawyers supported by the general public, civil society and the media succeeded in undoing the actions of a dictator.

Unfortunately, the political parties did not take any serious steps to reform the situation, even after Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif signed the Democracy Charter, agreeing to carry out judicial reforms. Although they agreed on various points, including the appointment of judges, these were not incorporated into the 18and Amendment to the constitution. Furthermore, no independent mechanism has been provided to maintain transparency and accountability in the judicial system.

Following the Vice President’s decision on April 3, the country was facing a serious crisis. There was no functioning government and there was a serious threat of unrest.

Economically, too, the country faces significant challenges. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) suspended the ongoing program, indicating its willingness to help achieve stability once a new government is installed.

The rupee lost its value again last week. As the time for preparing the new budget approached, it was unclear who could take responsibility for addressing lenders’ fiscal deficit and balance of payments concerns.

All of these issues were related to the Supreme Court case. Whoever forms the next government should review all ambiguous provisions of the constitution and remedy them to avoid a future crisis. The new government should also address the issues of appointment, removal, training of superior court judges and the power of suo motu hearing available with the Chief Justice, taking into account international best practices.

It is time for Pakistan to raise its judicial standards. Our judicial system must respect fundamental human rights. It should not allow governments to victimize political opponents and silence dissenting voices by imprisoning people in total violation of their fundamental right to a fair trial.

Beyond domestic harm, these injustices affect Pakistan’s position in the world. A look at the Global Rule of Law Index and World Justice Project (WJP) report shows that Pakistan is among the worst performing countries.

Honorable judges must review their performance, their conduct and the quality of the justice they render to us. Can we aspire to rub shoulders with highly respected court systems like those of Denmark, Norway and Finland in the WJP index or will we continue to be part of the underperforming club and maintain our current position?

Pakistan is one of the countries where the people have paid a high price for the independence of the judiciary. The historic lawyers’ movement, supported by the general public, civil society and the media, succeeded in undoing the actions of a dictator. After the justice system was restored, it was hoped that their justice concerns would be addressed in light of the laws and the constitution. These expectations had emerged in the country in defiance of the court’s record in justifying the repeal of the constitution, the execution of political opponents by dictators and the facilitation of the strengthening of their power.

Abdul Rauf Shakoori is a US-based corporate lawyer

Huzaima Bukhari is a High Court Barrister and Adjunct Professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

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