ISLAMABAD: In a full-court reference held at the Supreme Court to bid him farewell, Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa said, “I always did what I thought was right and was worth doing.”
Addressing the gathering held on Friday, Khosa maintained: “I gave my hundred per cent to the job, tried to perform beyond the call of duty, never raised my voice, spoke mainly through my pen, never delayed a judgment unduly and after giving the best years of my life to this public service, I lay down my robes today with a conscience which is clear as crystal.”
Justice Khosa, who is set to retire today at midnight, will end a career in the judiciary spanning almost two decades. Justice Gulzar Ahmed will take oath tomorrow as the 27th chief justice of Pakistan.
The outgoing chief justice said that he had always “strived to live up to my oath of office and have tried to dispense justice according to law and without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”.
“It is not for me to lay any claim on correctness of my legal opinions but I only hope that posterity may judge me with kindness and may appreciate the sincerity of the efforts made,” he added.
He went on to list the measures he took in order to bring reforms in the judiciary which include the launch of e-courts, online Supreme Court database, revamped website as well a mobile application. He pointed out that a backlog of pending criminal appeals was wiped out and the practice of asking for adjournments was “effectively discouraged”.
“An all out effort was made to put our own house in order with an approach focusing mainly on improving the justice delivery system,” he said and added that during his tenure as top judge “the image of [the Supreme] Court as a dignified judicial forum sitting at the apex of judicial hierarchy was maintained, the principle of separation of powers was adhered to, judicial restraint was exercised and dignity and respect was ensured for all appearing before the Court as lawyers, litigants or officials.”
Justice Ahmed, during his address, paid a rich tribute to his predecessor and termed the outgoing chief justice as a judge “par excellence” and “a person of extraordinary intellect, unmatched integrity and outstanding erudition”.
Though Justice Ahmed did not lay out a roadmap for his tenure as the top judge, he noted: “Rule of law, protection of Constitution and independence of the judiciary, are the foremost tasks with which this court is constantly confronted with.
“This court has, in the past, addressed these challenges and shall continue to address these challenges with all due dignity and profoundness,” he said. He also insisted that the “state should build and provide for civic infrastructure so also the civil infrastructure”. Justice Ahmed is currently hearing multiple cases pertaining to illegal encroachments and lack of infrastructure in urban cities. He said that the state must adopt a “humanistic approach” and added: “Corruption and illegalities, in all the departments of the State, need to be seriously addressed and eliminated.”
The reference was attended by all Supreme Court judges with the exception of Justice QaziFaez Isa who is on holiday. The attendees included vice chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council, president of the Supreme Court Bar, additional attorney general and others.
Earlier, speaking on behalf of the attorney general at the reference, Deputy Attorney General Amir Rehman said [Khosa] has been labelled a “poetic judge” because of his observations and judgments. “As a judge he decided 55,000 criminal cases as well as 10,000 criminal cases. In addition, he also made his stance clear on submitting false testimonies and evidence to courts,” he said.
The deputy attorney general also criticised the special court’s verdict in the high treason case against former dictator Pervez Musharraf.