Premier told to watch red lines

CJP says ‘silent revolution’ reformed judiciary

By Shakeel Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa has said that the PM should not criticise the judges and the judiciary and should stop giving “controversial statements regarding the institution.
“The case, the Prime Minister referred to, I do not want to talk upon that, the prime minister himself is the one who allowed the accused to travel abroad, not the courts,” said Khosa, referring to a recent speech by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Addressing a ceremony in Islamabad on Wednesday, the CJP was of the view that the Lahore High Court, in its November 16 decision in former PM Nawaz Sharif’s ECL case, only set the modalities and it was the premier who allowed the PML-N leader to go abroad.
He said that a “silent revolution” has reformed judiciary and today the state organ is working freely.
The CJP said that no one can question the credibility of the institution and allegations of “siding with the powerful” are false and unfounded.
“Only the law of the land is supreme in the eyes of judiciary,” said the CJP.
Speaking about the credibility and non-partisan attitude of the court, the Chief Justice said that the court has disqualified two Prime Minister’s in the past, whilst they were in power and now they are determined to give a verdict on a pending case against a former dictator Pervez Musharraf. Khosa said the court and judiciary were only subservient to the law and such brave moves are a testament to that.
“We have achieved exemplary performances within limited resources and for that, the judiciary should be commended rather than be chastised.”
The PM said there was a perceived disparity in how the powerful and common people were treated in the country’s judicial system. He said he was ready to support the judiciary to change the perception and restore public confidence in the institutions. These remarks didn’t go down well with the chief justice, who urged the prime minister to refrain from blaming the judiciary, as the Lahore High Court only set modalities after the government allowed the ex-premier to exit Pakistan on account of failing health.
The CJP said that the prime minister should refrain from issuing such statements as he is the chief executive of the government. “The particular case that the respected prime minister referred to, I do not want to comment on that. But he (PM Imran Khan) should know that they themselves allowed somebody (Nawaz Sharif) to go abroad. The debate in the high court was only over modalities. Please be careful [with statements].”
“Do not taunt us regarding the powerful,” the chief justice said, adding that everyone is equal before the law.
“Do you not remember that we convicted a prime minister [Nawaz Sharif] and disqualified another prime minister [Yousuf Raza Gilani]?” Chief Justice Khosa said. He said a case concerning former army chief Gen Musharraf is going to be decided soon. The CJP said that the current judiciary should not be compared to that of 2009 as it is free now.
The top judge lamented that the judiciary is working without proper resources and only above 3000 judges gave verdicts in hundreds of thousands of cases last year. “If one high-profile case gets highlighted by media then it does not mean the 3.6 million cases by a mere 3,100 judges should lay forgotten.”
He emphasised that the dedication and impartiality of the institution should be respected, saying: “Nobody is perfect. No institution, no human being is perfect. But if some people are working with such dedication, please encourage and facilitate them.”
In a major setback to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the LHC on Saturday had allowed the former premier to travel abroad for four weeks without having to sign the indemnity bond suggested by the federal government, saying the duration could be extended on doctors’ recommendation. As the government and Sharif brothers remained at an impasse over the terms of Nawaz’s travel abroad specifically his return to Pakistan the LHC had said that it would draft its own undertaking for the former premier’s travel and give to lawyers of both sides.
Following the court’s directions, the PML-N legal team had submitted a handwritten draft of the undertaking by Nawaz, which stated: “I do hereby undertake to return to Pakistan […] to face the process of law and justice as soon as I am declared healthy and fit to travel to Pakistan by my doctors.”
A separate undertaking was submitted by Shehbaz in which he had stated, “I undertake to facilitate the return of my brother on certification by doctors that he has regained his health and is fit to return to Pakistan.”