Breaking news: Remember we (LUBP) informed you first!

Justice Ramday to be rewarded with a senatorial position by PML-N
By Omar Khattab in Lahore

Lahore, the hotbed of PML-N, is abuzz with rumors that the Sharif brothers have in principle decided to make Justice (now retired) Khalil Ramday a PML-N senator at the first opportunity. After retiring the other day, Ramday will have to wait for two years in order to be eligible for a public office.

This writer spoke to a few Lahori pundits whose political predictions have always come true. They had almost identical views on the future of Ramday: His “services” to democracy, his support of everything Punjabi/PML-N in the Supreme Court, and his family loyalty to the Sharifs will be rewarded in style and no less an office than senarotship will be his.

It should be borne in mind that the entire Ramday family is loyal to the Sharif brothers. Ramday’s brothers and cousins are office-bearers of PML-N. His younger brother is a PML-N member of the national parliament.

A senatorial seat for Ramday will send a very encouraging signal to those serving judges, generals, and bureaucrats who are supportive of the Sharif. The message is that if they support the Sharif, they will be rewarded once they are out of office. Some of the examples one can quote are those of the DPO of Lahore and the SP of Gujranwala who refused to obey their superiors’ orders and sided with the Sharif brothers in their semi-violent movement to restore Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Legally, they should have been sacked for insubordination and they continue to enjoy their positions and have become the blue-eyed boys of the Sharif brothers. In Shiekhupra in 2009, a policeman took off his belt and announced that he had given up his job and had joined Nawaz Sharif’s party. But this policeman continues to work and now has been posted in his own area. Thus the pattern is: If you are loyal to the Sharifs, you can violate law and constitution and you will still be well taken care of.

The PML-N leadership has decided to keep quiet about the issue because a confirmation of the decision to reward Ramday will further alienate the people of Pakistan who have started raising questions about the anti-Sindhi and anti-PPP stance of the Supreme Court.

It may be remembered that it is no secret that the Sharif brothers have decided to have Justice Iftikhar elected as Pakistan’s president once they gain majority in parliament and he has retired. The time-frame is between 2015 and 2017.

10 responses to “Breaking news: Remember we (LUBP) informed you first!”

  1. well in Justice Ramday’s own words on October 24 2007:

    “I am not ashamed if I had taken the oath under the PCO,” Justice Ramday observed. “We have made our country, its institutions and the Constitution a matter of laughing stock in the world.”

    He said that whatever ‘burble and verbal jugglery’ might be behind the changes made since 1977 in the Constitution, the country had been ruled under the Constitution.“But we sit here and waste days and weeks trying to understand (interpreting things),” Justice Ramday said.

  2. Adding to it….As SS and CH.Nisar hope…If by any miracle SS,Ch.N or NS came to power before ending the 2 yrs time…Laws will be moulded in a way as were for Gous Ali Shah by the mentor Zia

  3. The military mullah Judiciary alliance is in full swing. No long apply to them; the laws are only meant to be misinterpreted, distorted and changed to lynch PPP!

  4. adding to it. currently Ikram Sheikh former supreme court bar association president son is currently deputy attorney of Punjab government. and before him justice Ramday nephew was Punjab’s attorney general altough he is 42 years old and illegibilty creteria for a judg is quite clear . a person should be atleast 45 to be an provincial attorney .


    On March 20, the Supreme Court, in a land mark judgment, held that the consultation with the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, in the appointment of judges to the Courts “should be effective, meaningful, purposive, consensus-oriented, leaving no room for complaint of arbitrariness or unfair play.” The Supreme Court also directed the federal government to appoint permanent chief justices in higher courts where at present constitutional functions are being performed by acting chief justices appointed by the government. The SC judgment also upheld the rule of seniority in respect of the appointment of high court chief justices. The Court struck down Article 203-C of the constitution, (which provided for the transfer of judges to the Shariah Court) an amendment made by General Zia, on the ground of conflict with Article 209.

    On May 19, the Supreme Court returned a constitutional reference, filed by the president three days earlier, against the apex court decision, saying it had not been signed by the President as required by the constitution. On the same day the federal government filed a review petition against the Supreme Court decision. May 26, Supreme Court Judge Mir Hazar Khan Khoso announced his dissenting judgment which, inter alia, said that the President has the power under the constitution to appoint judges and that no time-limit can be fixed for filling in the permanent vacancies for judges in the superior courts. The Federal government withdrew its review petitions as the Supreme Court refused to change the bench. In an unprecedented move on June 13, the chief justices of the Supreme Court and four provincial High Courts ordered the sacking of 24 judges — all of whom were appointed by the government. Benazir had balked at implementing that judgment and had refused to sack the 24 judges.

    As the deadlock continued between the Chief Justice Sajjad Hussain Shah and the Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, over the appointment of judges to the superior courts, President Farooq Leghari, on September 21, filed a reference in the Supreme Court asking whether or not he could appoint judges to superior courts without the advice of the Prime Minister. In his reference, the president pointed out that the Supreme Court judgment had been partially implemented by the government and observed that some of the ad hoc judges of the high courts had resigned on the request or persuasion of the government. “It is a moot point whether these resignations constitute compliance with the Supreme Court judgment,” the reference maintained.

    President Farouq Ahmad Khan Leghari, on September 23, sent to the Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairman of the Senate messages, proposing suitable amendments in the laws enabling the president to consult the leader of the opposition and the chief justice of the Supreme Court in addition to the Prime Minister in appointing judges to the special courts adjucating corruption cases involving holders of public offices. He has also proposed amendments in the relevant laws enabling the Wafaqi Mohtasib to act as the prosecutor in the trial of these cases. The appointment of the Mohtasib would be done in consultation with the prime minister, the leader of the opposition and chief justice of Pakistan.

    1997 Constitutional Crisis

    The crisis with judiciary began in August 1997 when the chief justice recommended elevation of five named judges to the Supreme Court. On Sept. 5, the Supreme Court suspended a government notification to reduce the number of judges from 17 to 12. The federal government, on Sept. 16, withdrew its notification. However, from around August 20 up to the middle of October there was practically no other issue in contest — publicly. And the resistance to the recommendation, in fact not-so veiled refusal to comply with it, was coming from Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif and not the parliament.

    On October 10, the aggrieved judges took the opportunity of a brief absence of Justice Sajjad from the country to call a full court review under the chairmanship of the acting chief justice. Justice Sajjad returns home in haste on October 13, calls off the full court meeting and transfers all dissident judges to the outposts of the apex court in Quetta, Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore.

    The breach was now clearly in the open. The resentment of the dissident judges — respected members of the judiciary — must have been intense. The Chief Justice was master of the house, but a bitterly divided house. In an unprecedented move, on October 21, five honorable judges of the Supreme Court sent a letter to the President of Pakistan, to complain about the behavior of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and distance themselves from some of his actions. This letter was originally written to the chief justice, and later sent to the president. Never before in Pakistan’s history had such an incident occurred.

    On November 3, a petition of contempt of court is entertained by the CJ against the PM and his close associates. A charged atmosphere was super-charged by summoning the PM to appear in the court on November 17 and demanding the Speaker of the National Assembly to turn over the expunged record of the assembly proceedings. Yet, another breach of the assembly’s privilege.

    A three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by the then chief justice “directed the president” on Nov 20 not to give assent to the Contempt of Court (Amendment) Bill 1997, as under: “In the circumstances we deem it fit and proper to direct respondent No. 1 (President of Pakistan) in constitutional petition No. 4 43 of 1997 not to give assent, and if assent has already been given the operation of the Contempt of Court (Amendment) Act of 1997 is hereby suspended until further orders.” There was no precedent, nor apparent ground in law, for the chief justice to prohibit the president’s assent to that bill, and even less to rule the bill suspended if the assent had already been given.

    The bill amending the law of contempt was innovative in that it provided for an appeal against a Supreme Court conviction for contempt, for automatic stay of the conviction, and for that appeal to be heard by another set of judges of the same court.

    On Nov. 26, the Supreme Court, Quetta Bench, declared Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah’s appointment in abeyance and the Prime Minister sends to president the name of the new Chief Justice for approval. This case was the strangest of the strange, indeed, one in which not only the little-known petitioners but even the federation stated that the appointment of Justice Shah by superseding three senior judges was illegal. The next day, a five-member Supreme Court bench annuls Quetta bench’s verdict over CJ’s suspension while; the Supreme Court Peshawar bench endorses Quetta bench’s order.

    The ruling political party was not far behind in ugliness when the party’s rabble attacked the Supreme Court premises on November 28. It was one of Pakistan’s saddest days. There is no doubt the disgraceful attack on the Supreme Court was completely premeditated.

    On December 2, by suspending the 13th Amendment in a total arbitrary manner, the stage was set for the dismissal of the government of Nawaz Sharif. The grant of temporary restoration of the presidential power to dissolve the National Assembly (the repealed Article 58(2)b on the ground of a break-down of the constitutional machinery was obviously an act of desperation to prevent a feared collapse. It was virtually the last throw of the dice in a do-or-die game.

    After weeks of machinations and Machiavellian scheming aimed at ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power, the country’s partisan president had finally to resign on Dec. 2. Mr. Leghari had never relished the fact that Mr. Nawaz Sharif should have taken away his powers to dismiss the government through the 13th Amendment. In fact, President Leghari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif both used the Pakistani judiciary to establish their personal authority. In this power game, Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was very much with Mr. Leghari. But this power struggle could not be carried on because of the effective intervention of the Army Chief, General Jehangir Karamat.

    Mr. Leghari apparently had ruthless dictatorial ambitions and was never content with the ceremonial role that he was constitutionally assigned. He dismissed the duly elected government of Ms Benazir Bhutto and came very close to dislodging another. He engineered an unholy alliance with Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah to carry out a constitutional coup and the Chief Justice was a willing ally in the conspiracy to subvert the people’s mandate. Chief Justice Shah relentlessly attempted to provide Mr. Leghari the dictatorial powers under the Eighth Amendment to deliver the proverbial coup de grace to the Sharif regime.

    Mr. Leghari had never relished the fact that Mr. Nawaz Sharif should have taken away his powers to dismiss the government through the 13th Amendment. In fact, the Pakistani judiciary was used both by Mr. Leghari and Mr. Nawaz Sharif to establish their personal authority. In this power game, Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was very much with Mr. Leghari. But this power struggle could not be carried on because of the effective intervention of the Army Chief, General Jehangir Karamat.

    When Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was removed from the office, on Dec. 2, the crucial issues pending before the Supreme Court were:

    1. Contempt of court action against Nawaz Sharif and seven others.

    2. Petition regarding the unlawful allotment of thousands of plots by him when chief minister of Punjab.

    3. Petition regarding the unlawful ISI distribution of Rs. 140 million of the people’s money to him and others.

    4. Petition regarding award of wheat transport contract by him to his crony Saeed Shaikh.

    5. Petition regarding his misuse of power in pressurizing banks to settle loan cases out of court.

    6. Petition challenging his Anti-terrorist Act 1997.

    7. Petitions regarding suspension of 13th and 14th Amendments. ]

    Judiciary damaged

    Victory of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been at the expense of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and indeed superior judiciary as such. The SC judges have not held their image and prestige by becoming controversial. It is a settled principle that no writ will be issued by one judge to another. It was a pathetic spectacle to see two Supreme Court benches suspended the chief justice of their own court while the chief justice retaliated by recommending disciplinary action against all four of five judges involved. Repeatedly, order by one bench was overturned by another. Then political workers invaded the Supreme Court several times and abused the judges and indulging in violence. This was the darkest hour for the judiciary in the country. Gone were the days when it was universally respected as the cleanest and the most upright institution. Both sets of judges have been accused by their detractors of being motivated by personal and other extraneous considerations in their mutual bickering and tussle.

    The irony of the crisis was that, eventually, it was not the executive that gave the final and, perhaps, fatal blow to the chief justice. It was his own peers who let him down. The very institution they wished to strengthen fell to the ground by their own actions. No one is left with any doubts that the judges are far from impartial.

    The law and its traditions have since long become a fiction in courtrooms. The only difference this time was that the decay in the judiciary unfolded for all to see. The price paid by the superior judiciary is certainly very high. The crisis with judiciary have only served to confirm that, irrespective of how “stubborn” or “vindictive” a chief justice may be, he is no match against a government that excels in the art of wheeling and dealing. (6)

    Nawaz Sharif has succeeded in achieving what General Zia set out to do when he was cut short by destiny. In fact, the late dictator could not have hoped for a more competent lieutenant. General Zia had no patience for independent judges and thought nothing of replacing the ones who did not agree with him. Sharif has demonstrated the same tendency and, as in everything else, has surpassed his mentor in achieving his objectives. The judiciary today lies in ruins, devastated by the kind of power politics that was once the domain of political parties. (7)

    The repercussions of the rulings given in haste or in anger will long dog the course of justice. During the crisis, the people have seen the Alice in Wonderland spectacle where the judges pass the judgment first and hear the witnesses later. Inevitably the feeling has arisen that the superior courts exist only for the seekers and brokers of power while the ordinary litigants languish into generations before their cases appear on the “cause list” which appeared quickly and abundantly when political power was at stake. (8)

    Why the Army did not intervene?

    It was apparently failure of the army to sustain the president’s position — the presidents have always depended on the army for their actions against the government — that President Leghari was forced to resign. Theoretically, in a Westminster-style democracy that this country has tried to emulate, there are four pillars of the state — the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and the press. But our country rests imbalanced on five. The fifth pillar, the most powerful, the richest, the most organized, is the army which has governed Pakistan for half its 50-year existence. (9)

    Fortunately, at present the chances of a direct take-over by the army seem remote because of economic factors and the international environment. There is a renewed emphasis on democracy worldwide in the aftermath of the Cold War and Pakistan cannot be immune to these global trends. Now it will be difficult for the Pakistani armed forces to sell a coup to the world in general and to the United States in particular.

    Some political analysts believed that the army simply could not intervene for fear of a division within its own ranks. The army’s involving itself in politics, at this stage, would have meant taking sides. Which would have made the army controversial and opinion within the forces would have strongly differed. That threat was all too real as numerous press stories had mentioned it. Therefore the fact that the army did not participate in political matters by siding with the president or anyone else and that he in fact refused to bail out the president and the CJP bespeaks the fear that the leadership had of the consequences of upholding any of them.

    Moreover, Mr. Nawaz Sharif was no pushover like Benazir Bhutto was. It could legitimately be foreseen and feared that there would be a backlash in Punjab and the situation may not be easily controllable even by the army. And of course, there was the danger of the army being divided within itself. In fact the limits to army’s political power have become visible even to ordinary citizens. (10) However, thanks to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the turn of events – especially those in the third week of November – have, by default, made the army establishment’s dream come true: It now has a much greater say in the affairs of the government without its concomitant responsibility.

    According to the Washington Post, the army sided with Sharif today by making clear that it would not back President Leghari if he dismissed the prime minister. The Post reported that Leghari had informed the army chief, General Jehangir Karamat, that he intended to dismiss Nawaz Sharif and was drafting an explanatory speech. But General Karamat delivered a message of his own: The army would not back Sharif’s ouster, in effect making any such order meaningless. (11)

    Looming economic crises in Pakistan prevented the army from taking over control of the country during the current political crisis, according to the Times, London. “In another era the army would have taken over. This time, the looming economic crisis doubtless deterred it from dosing so, given the certainty that international financial institutions would have shunned a nation led by military dictators.” The generals were bound to engineer the Prime Minister’s survival because the only alternative was martial law, a fact that emboldened Mr. Sharif to take on two such important institutions. (12)

    In a comment the New York Times said: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has won a constitutional battle with the president and supreme court chief justice, but he had to get the army’s support to prevail. “The army behaved responsibly by insuring the continuation of an elected government. Still, it is discouraging to see the army remains such a powerful arbiter.” Mr. Nawaz Sharif had become the most powerful Prime Minister since Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. (13)

    According to the Financial Times, London, General Jehangir Karamat, the army chief, has intervened twice in the growing constitutional crisis, apparently in both cases to save Nawaz Sharif from premature downfall. On this occasion, Pakistan’s military has chosen to side with an elected parliament rather than bring the tanks on to the streets. But the very fact that it took the chief of staff’s interventions shows how qualified a victory it is for Pakistan’s democracy and how politically important the military remains. (14)

    Senator Tarar elected as President

    Senator Rafiq Ahmad Tarar, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, was elected president on December 31, 1997. Amid speculations that the presidency would go to a smaller province since the Prime Minister and the Army Chief of Staff are from the Punjab province, the presidential race had narrowed down to Senator Sartaj Aziz and Acting President Wasim Sajjad when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif dropped his bombshell: “Justice (retd) Rafiq Ahmed Tarar was to be Pakistan’s next president. ” Over the next two days, it became apparent that even Sharif’s cabinet knew nothing about the decision while this unexpected announcement left many Muslim Leaguers bewildered.

    For his remarks in press interviews against the judiciary, Justice of the Supreme Court, Mukhtar Ahmad Junejo, who also held the post of Acting Chief Election Commissioner, rejected Tarar’s nomination on December 18. A petition was filed against Junejo’s order in the Lahore High Court. Justice Qayyum admitted the petition on December 19 and suspended Junejo’s order, allowing Tarar to “participate in the election provisionally subject to further orders.” Justice Junejo was removed and replaced by retired Justice Abdul Qadeer Chaudhry as the Chief Election Commission.

    It is no mere coincidence that he was on the Supreme Court bench that reinstated Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister on May 26, 1993. Also casting a dark shadow on him is the referendum of December 1994 when, as a member of Zia’s election commission, he solemnly assured the people that 55 per cent and not just five per cent of the electorate had turned out to confer legitimacy on Zia’s dictatorial rule. Mr. Tarar also has to dispel the widely insinuated impression that he was involved in the “Quetta Shuttle” which divided the Supreme Court and wrote the saddest chapter in Pakistan’s constitutional history. (15)

    The selection of Senator Tarar as a presidential candidate was a surprise to all and not too well received by a broad section of society. The Prime Minister, of course, had his own reasons that he explained in his interview with the BBC. He said Senator Tarar was a patriot and a man of integrity and belonged to the middle class section of society. This could, of course, be said for millions of others as well. When asked why the presidential candidate was not selected from a smaller province as was being expected by the people, the Prime Minister said that such “petty matters” should not be given any consideration. The full participation by all the provinces in the federal decision-making process in Islamabad is essential for the unity and solidarity of the federation and is certainly not a “petty matter.” (16)

    LHC upholds Tarar’s plea

    The Lahore High Court accepted, on Feb. 9 1998, the constitutional petition filed by Rafiq Tarar against his disqualification by the (former) Acting CEC and declared him qualified to contest for and hold the office of President. The acting CEC, Justice Mukhtar Ahmed Junejo of the Supreme Court, had found Tarar, a former Supreme Court Judge, guilty of propagating views prejudicial to the integrity and independence of the judiciary at the time of his nomination as a presidential candidate under Article 63(G) of the Constitution and debarred him from the December, 1997 contest.

    The short verbal order did not deal with the question of fact involved in the case – whether Tarar in his interview of the weekly Takbir of June 27, 1996, and statement to the daily Jang, Rawalpindi, of Dec 4, 1997, propagated views prejudicial to the judiciary. Neither before the acting CEC nor in the LHC did Tarar or his counsel categorically denied the allegedly contemptuous statements in their entirety.

    Tarar’s counsel, Barrister Ijaz Hussein Batalvi told the LHC that the interview carried by Takbeer did not fully convey the views of Tarar. In any case, Tarar was elected senator after the interview and was not debarred from the senatorial contest. The Jang interview did not refer to any judge as no judge left in disgrace on Dec 2. Besides, a penal action could not be based on newspaper reports. Again, a presidential candidate who is also a sitting member of parliament cannot be disqualified under Article 63. Article 41(2) says that a candidate should be qualified to be elected a member of parliament under Article 62 and disqualification under Article 63 cannot be read into it.

  6. SC issues detailed judgment in Sajjad’s appointment case

    The Supreme Court on Feb. 9, 1998 issued detailed judgment on the petitions challenging the appointment of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah as the chief justice of Pakistan. The ten-member bench headed by Justice Saiduzzaman Siddiqui in its short order on Dec 23, 1997 had declared the appointment of Justice Sajjad as the CJ, illegal and unconstitutional.

    The court in its 391-page judgment rejected the argument that if the appointment of Justice Sajjad as the chief justice was held unconstitutional; its application would be with retrospective effect. The court held that doctrine of de facto would apply to the appointment of Justice Sajjad as the chief justice of Pakistan till Nov 26, 1997, when a division bench of the Supreme Court restrained him from performing his administrative and judicial functions.

    Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, the counsel for the former chief justice, had argued that if the appointment of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah as the chief justice was declared invalid, it would lead to serious consequences as except three judges of the Supreme Court – Justice Ajmal Mian, Justice Saiduzzaman Siddiqui and Justice Fazal Illahi Khan – the appointment of all the Supreme Court judges and a number of high court judges would become invalid as all of them were appointed by the president in consultation with Justice Sajjad Ali Shah who was then the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

    The ten-member bench after discussing the doctrine of de facto observed: “the principle of de facto exercise of power by a holder of the public office is based on sound principle of public policy to maintain regularity in the conduct of the public business, to save the public from confusion and to protect the private right which a person may acquire as a result of exercise of power by the de facto holder of the office.”

    The court also dismissed the argument that the appointment of Justice Sajjad as the chief justice of Pakistan was a past and closed chapter after the apex court judgment in Judges case. Responding to the argument of Hafeez Pirzada that no judge affected by the appointment of Justice Sajjad as the CJ had objected to his appointment and they continued to function, the court said it was incorrect.

    The court maintained that three judges senior to Respondent No 2 (Justice Sajjad) in spite of invitation by the president of Pakistan did not attend the oath-taking ceremony of Justice Shah as the CJ to express their resentment. Justice Saad Saood Jan, the senior most judge of the apex court who had legitimate expectancy to become the chief justice of Pakistan after the retirement of Justice Nasim Hasan Shah, the court observed, proceeded on leave for three months and until his retirement on June 30, 1996, spent most of his time at the apex court branch registry at Lahore. The court also referred to the speech of Justice Saad Saood Jan on the occasion of his retirement and a press statement issued by him, to show that he had resented his supersession by a junior judge.

    Justice Ajmal Mian, another judge who was affected due to the violation of the principle of seniority in the appointment of the CJ, had also expressed his opinion on the appointment of a junior judge as the chief justice. The court referred to the two judgments in Al Jehad Case 1, and Al Jehad Case II, in which Justice Ajmal Mian had expressed his views on the subject.

    Justice Ajmal Mian and Justice Saad Saood Jan did not surrender their right of legitimate expectancy to the office of the chief justice of Pakistan in favor of respondent No. 2, the court observed. “It must be borne in mind that judges of the superior courts by tradition maintain high degree of comity amongst themselves. They are not expected to go public on their differences over any issue.”

    The court observed that it was not expected of the superior court judges to litigate in courts like ordinary litigants in case of denial of a right connected with their offices as the code of conduct for the superior court judges enjoined upon them to avoid as far as possible any litigation on their behalf or on behalf of others.

    It held that the principle of seniority in the appointment of the CJ since the establishment of the Supreme Court in 1956 was upheld. It was only violated in 1994 when the Respondent No 2 (Justice Sajjad Ali Shah), fourth on the seniority list, was appointed the chief justice of Pakistan.

    The court rejected the argument of Hafeez Pirzada that no writ could be issued against a judge, the court held that judgments delivered by a judge or group of judges were the functions which were covered under Article 199(5) of the Constitution. “The difference between a judge acting as court and a judge acting in his personal and individual capacity is not only real but is necessary to preserve, otherwise a judge will not be answerable for wrong done by him in his individual capacity.”

    Action taken or orders passed by him in his capacity as a judge of the court cannot be brought under challenge under Article 199 of the Constitution but his action as ordinary individual would be subject to ordinary law of the land including Article 199 of the Constitution, it was maintained. When the appointment of a judge is challenged that he did not possess the qualification prescribed by the Constitution, the relator was not asking the court to strike down any of his action which he had performed or was performing as judge but was asking for examination of personal qualification. “We are therefore of the view that such an attack on the validity of the appointment of a judge of superior court through collateral proceeding is not proper remedy.”

    The court held that petitions challenging the appointment of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah as the chief justice were maintainable. The SC reacted to the objections raised by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah against six judges on the bench, accusing them of bias. The court rejected the objections. The court also rejected the objection to the presence of Justice Saiduzzaman Siddiqui, Justice Fazal Illahi Khan, Justice Irshad Hasan Khan, Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid and Justice Khalilur Rehman Khan on the bench hearing the petitions. The court also rejected the objection of bias against Justice Saiduzzaman Siddiqui that he was prejudiced against Justice Sajjad for the reason that he had recommended to the president to refer his (Justice Siddiqui’s) case to the Supreme Judicial Council.

    The Supreme Court converts ‘charge sheet’ against Nawaz Sharif into notice

    A supreme court bench headed by Chief Justice Ajmal Mian agreed on Feb. 17, 1998 to treat as a mere “show cause notice” a “charge sheet” issued to Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif by a bench headed by the former chief justice, Justice (retd) Sajjad Ali Shah, for alleged contempt of court. S.M. Zafar, counsel for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, took 90 minutes to persuade the court that the charge sheet issued to the prime minister was not a charge sheet as required under the law, and the court was still at the stage of “show cause notice”.

    When the proceedings started, Chief Justice Ajmal Mian observed that the previous bench had charge sheeted the prime minister, and the only question for the court to decide was what procedure to follow.

    S.M. Zafar contended that no charge sheet had been “issued”, but admitted that a charge sheet had been “drafted”. He said unless a charge sheet was read out to an accused asking him whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty, there was no charge sheet. He said under rule 7 of the 1976 Contempt of Court Act, the attorney general had to act as a prosecutor, and it was his duty to read out a charge to an accused. He said no such thing had happened in this case, and the so-called charge sheet was handed down to representatives of the respondents at the office of the deputy registrar.

    When the chief justice observed that a mere formality of reading out a charge sheet to an alleged contempt was not performed, the counsel for the prime minister stated that reading out the charge sheet to the accused was not a “mere formality”, but an “essential formality.”

    Mr Zafar argued suspending the potency of the 14th Amendment through an interim order without hearing the Federal Government or the attorney general, had upset parliamentarians who raised the issue in the parliament and this necessitated an explanation by the respondent. He contended that by virtue of section 8 of the Contempt of Court Act, Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, after having taken cognizance, could not proceed with the case.

    Nawaz Sharif filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the dismissal order of the President. On May 26, 1993, a full bench of the Supreme Court gave an almost unanimous (10:1) verdict, holding that President Ghulam Ishaq Khan had acted unlawfully in dissolving the National Assembly and dismissing the Nawaz government. The Supreme Court announced: “On merits by majority (of 10 to 1) we hold that the order of the 18th April, 1993, passed by the President of Pakistan is not within the ambit of the powers conferred on the President under Article 58(2)(b) of the constitution and other enabling powers available to him in that behalf and has, therefore, been passed without lawful authority and is of no legal effect.” The chief justice of the supreme court took the view that the president and not the prime minister had been instrumental in subverting the spirit of the constitution because “the president had ceased to be a neutral figure and started to align himself with his opponents and was encouraging them in their efforts to destablize his government.” The Supreme Court decision itself, while open to criticism because throughout the proceedings it seemed as if the judges had already made up their minds,[13] upheld the supremacy of the constitution besides narrowing to such an extent the scope of the president’s powers under the Eighth Amendment to dissolve the National Assembly that in future a president impatient with an assembly will think hard before taking any action against it.[14]

    The judgment demolished the myth of the President’s over lordship of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister. The salient features of the Supreme Court’s verdict can be summarized as under:[15]

    a. The President, being a symbol of the unity of the country, is entitled to respect. It is contingent upon the President to conduct himself with the utmost impartiality and neutrality. Their Lordships concluded that President Ghulam Ishaq Khan had ceased to be a neutral and had aligned himself with the elements which were trying to destablize the Nawaz government.

    b. The Prime Minister was neither answerable to the President nor subordinate to him.

    c. The only way open to the President under the constitution for deciding whether the Prime Minister does, or does not command the confidence of the majority of the member of the National Assembly is by summoning the National Assembly and requiring the Prime Minister to obtain a vote of confidence from the Assembly. Any other method adopted for achieving the object, for forming an opinion, and for giving effect to it is impossible.

    d. The allegations of corruption, maladministration, and incorrect policies being pursued in matters of financial, administrative, and international affairs, are independently neither decisive nor within the domain of the President for action under Article 58(2)(b) of the constitution. These are wholly extraneous and cannot sustain the impugned order.

    e. The advice of the Prime Minister is binding on the President.

    f. In formulating the policies of his government the Prime Minister is answerable to the National Assembly alone.

    g. In the matter of appointing the services chiefs, the President is empowered to appoint in his discretion only the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

    However, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, the only Sindhi judge of the Supreme Court in his dissident verdict pointed out that two Sindhi Prime Ministers, before this, were dismissed under the same article of the constitution, but the Supreme Court upheld the decision. However, when it was the turn of a Prime Minister from the Punjab then the tables were turned and the assembly as well as the government was restored. The dissenting judge added, “indications were given that the decision of the court would be such which would please the nation…In my humble opinion decision of the Court should be strictly in accordance with law and not to please the nation.”

    The verdict of the Supreme Court was, indeed, an indictment of the President by the highest judicial forum of Pakistan. In fact, this was the ultimate insult for a man who in all his life had never tasted defeat, and certainly not at the hands of a person, who until yesterday, was regarded as his protégé. A brief statement issued from the Presidency the same evening declared that the president was going to honor the verdict of the court. However, the President had other plans. Instead of packing his bags and putting a voluntary end to his long stint in public office, the president decided to strike back. Within three days of the verdict, the president’s men went into action in Lahore and succeeded in dissolving the Punjab Assembly. A day later, the NWFP Assembly was also sent packing. And if this was not enough, a vote of no-confidence was subsequently moved against the Chief Minister of Sindh.

    The Supreme Court verdict had clearly not resolved the political crisis in the country. The renewed confrontation was assuming threatening proportions, with the newly inducted caretaker governments in the Punjab and NWFP very serious in their attempts to restrict the writ of the central government to the federal limits of Islamabad. Ironically, Nawaz Sharif himself had once attempted this gambit when, as the Chief Minister of the Punjab, he had, tried to confine the authority of the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto, to the federal capital. The continued confrontation between Nawaz Sharif and Ghulam Ishaq Khan polarized Pakistani politics and threatened to undermine government institutions.

    After waiting in the wings through a political crisis of epic proportions, the army finally decided to emerge from the shadows and take its traditional role in politics. Directly or from behind the scenes, the country has been ruled by the army for most of its half a century history. On this occasion, however, the military top brass had to decide the fate of a prime minister who, unlike his predecessors, stood on the same power-base as the army, and had continued to derive his support from an extremely influential section of the so-called establishment.[16] Corps Commanders met on July 1, 1993 to discuss three options: the imposition of martial law; asking the president to again dissolve the assembly and call for fresh elections; and requesting the prime minister to advise the president to dissolve the House and call snap polls. The conference decided on the third option and General Abdul Waheed told Nawaz Sharif the same day, that fresh elections were a possible answer to the prevailing crisis. Finally, under a compromise brokered by the military, both the President and the Prime Minister resigned in July 1993. Wasim Sajjad, who was serving as Senate Chairman was appointed interim President, in accordance with the constitution. According to the U.S. State Department, the Pakistani political leaders and the chief of army staff were kept under pressure during the negotiations to ensure that the country did not come under martial law.[17]

    The army’s role in the 1993 crisis has been rather different from what it was at the time of the past two dismissals. In May 1988, when Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo was removed, the then President General Ziaul Haq was himself the army chief. Later when Benazir Bhutto’s government was removed in August 1990, General Aslam Beg and the rest of the army leadership was as much involved in the act as the president. This time, however, the army’s involvement has been limited to a passive support for the president’s action, who also happens to be the supreme commander of the armed forces. It was not without reason that, on the night of the dismissal, Ishaq Khan made it a point to mention that his real differences with Nawaz Sharif had started when the latter objected to the appointment of General Abdul Waheed as the new army chief.


    Vendetta and revenge has always been the part of Pakistan’s politics. But this time, while launching a systematic and ruthless campaign against its opponents, the PPP government succeeded magnificently in politicizing the judiciary and to that extent curtailing its independence. Following normal practice, when Dr. Nasim Hasan Shah retired as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sa’ad Saud Jan should have rightly taken his place. But he was superseded by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who ranked third in seniority.

    The United States 1995 Human Rights report on Pakistan[31] described the judiciary as “not independent in reality.” The part of the report on independence of judiciary was blunt and hard-hitting as it gave details of how the courts were influenced. “The constitution provides for an independent judiciary but in reality, however, the judiciary is not independent. Through the President’s power to transfer high court justices and appoint temporary and ad hoc justices, the executive branch is able to influence the Supreme Court, the provincial high courts, and the lower levels of the judicial system.”

    “It has become a standard practice to appoint judges to the high courts and Supreme Court on temporary basis for a period of one year and later confirm or terminate their appointments after an evaluation of their performance. Legal experts say that temporary judges, eager to be confirmed following their probationary, tend to favor the government’s case in their deliberations. Judges in the Special Terrorism Courts are retired jurists, who are hired on renewable contracts. The desire to maintain their positions has the potential to influence their decisions.

    “Despite the Government’s promise to strengthen judicial independence, it took several measures to influence the court for political reasons. The Supreme Court heard the bail application and denied bail to an opposition Member of the National Assembly (MNA) in case where bail would routinely have been granted by a lower court. Mian Qurban Sadiq Ikram, special judge for the Court of Banking Offenses, was removed from the bench on July 31 (1994), a day after he granted interim bail to the father of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.”[32]

    In its International Narcotics Control report for 1994, the United States alleged that there is corruption in various government departments of Pakistan, including the judiciary. The allegation was based on the assumption drawn from judgments in various cases. The report cited the case of Rafi Munir for tainting Pakistani judiciary as corrupt. “There were other incidents during the year as well, such as the release of Rafi Munir, which would seem to indicate corruption in the judiciary,” it said.[33] The judicial system is on the verge of collapse and has come to the straits where it was ready to punish the innocent but most reluctant to punish guilty. [34]

    Note: All the posts above are excerpts from a book ISLAMIC PAKISTAN: ILLUSIONS & REALITY By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

  7. Dear Aamir
    Now I think that those channels which did not hire you lost someting totally priceless.

  8. Judicial Jitters in Pakistan – A Historical Overview Hamid Hussain Defence Journal, June 2007
    ‘Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please’. Mark Twain

    Pakistan is in the throes of a judicial crisis since March 2007. On March 09, 2007, general Pervez Mussharraf summoned chief justice Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudry to army house. He was asked some tough questions and then asked to resign. Chief justice held his ground and refused. He was kept at army house for several hours so that an acting chief justice could be sworn in. Justice Javed Iqbal was sworn in as the senior most judge justice Rana Baghwan Das was out of country. Chaudry was given the title of ‘suspended’ chief justice and his case referred to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for action. This started a crisis where majority of the people denounced the cavalier manner in which general Mussharraf dealt with the chief justice. Legal community fully supported chief justice by boycotting courts and bringing out processions on the streets. Now every one is waiting for the final scene of the drama which may take a while. Current crisis has brought judiciary in the lime light. This article will give a historical overview of the role of judiciary in Pakistan and its interaction with both civilian and military rulers.

    In every country, there is a continuous struggle for accumulating more power between different state institutions. Executive tries to get a free hand and does not like legal restraints. Judiciary tries to put some breaks on unchecked powers of the executive. This struggle keeps some semblance of balance of power. However, a politicized judiciary is as dangerous as an uncontrolled power hungry executive.

    Bumpy Start

    ‘We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it’. Lyndon Johnson

    Pakistan started on a sound footing as far as judiciary was concerned. Judiciary was deeply rooted in British judicial traditions. General public had great respect for the judiciary and while lengthy process of trials was dreaded, judges were held in high esteem as they were seen as fair in their judgments. The first Pakistani chief justice Sir Abdul Rasheed refused to socialize with Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan to avoid any misperception that judiciary will favor executive in certain circumstances. In 1954, Sindh chief court (later named high court) headed by chief judge (later designated chief justice) Sir George Constantine reversed Governor General’s order of dissolution of Constituent Assembly. Later several justices tried to maintain the independence of judiciary and resisted the pressures and temptations of the executive branch. However such cases were few. In 1999 when Supreme Court was hearing the case of establishment of military courts by Nawaz Sharif government, chief justice Ajmal Mian declined to meet prime minister and governor of Sindh Lt. General ® Moinuddin Haider who contacted him to visit him for Eid greetings.

    Only six years after independence, judiciary was called upon to deliberate upon constitutional issues. On April 17, 1953, Governor General Ghulam Muhammad dismissed Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin’s ministry on charges of inefficiency and inability to handle difficult problems of the country. In October, Ghulam Muhammad sent the draft of an interim constitution to Constituent Assembly which rejected it and insisted on deliberating about the constitution rather than stamping a prepared draft. Later, in October 1954, Ghulam Muhammad dismissed Constituent Assembly. The President of Constituent Assembly Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan challenged the dissolution order in Sindh chief court headed by chief judge Sir George Constantine. In a unanimous decision, Sindh chief court declared Governor General’s dismissal order unconstitutional. Government filed an appeal against Sindh chief court’s decision in the federal court. In March 1955, chief justice Muhammad Munir gave the historic decision in favor of Governor General Ghulam Muhammad. He made his decision on the basis of the argument that Sindh chief court had no jurisdiction to issue the writ. Munir interpreted country’s dominion status in a way which considered Queen of England rather than Constituent Assembly as the sovereign. (1)

    Muhammad Munir as chief justice of Pakistan presided two most important decisions in Pakistan’s judicial history. He upheld the decision of dissolution of constituent assembly by Governor General and later validated General Ayub Khan’s Martial Law in 1958 using the ‘doctrine of necessity’. He wrote a book in 1979 in which he elaborated at length about role of religion in state affairs but curiously remained completely silent about two of his most important judicial decisions. (2)

    Executive and Judiciary

    ‘It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive’. Earl Warren

    Executive and judiciary function in their own spheres but sometimes their interests clash. Executive tries to have some kind of control on the function of judiciary especially when its interests are challenged. Executive tries to influence judiciary through favors in postings, promotions and post-retirement benefits. Troublesome justices are mostly retired using administrative loopholes but occasionally more severe action is taken against the stubborn judge. Former Prime Minister Zulfiqar A. Bhutto was awarded death sentence by Lahore high court for ordering the murder of a political opponent. An appeal against the judgment was filed in the Supreme Court. The initial bench of nine judges (Anwar ul Haq, Muhammad Akram, Dorab Patel, Muhammad Haleem, Nasim Hasan Shah, Ghulam Safdar Shah, Karam Elahi Chauhan, Waheedudin Ahmad and Qaisar Khan) started to hear appeal. During the hearing, Qaisar Khan retired and Waheedudin Ahmad got ill. Remaining seven judges heard the case and rejected the appeal in a four to three decision on February 02, 1979. Justice Ghulam Safdar Shah was one of the dissenting judges (the other two were Muhammad Halim and Dorab Patel). He later gave a statement which gave the impression of his inclination to accept the argument of Bhutto’s defense team. This caused great apprehension and General Zia ordered director of Federal Investigations Agency (FIA) to inquire about Safdar Shah’s credentials. Government found many discrepancies and approached chief justice for action against the judge. The case was referred to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and Safdar Shah was forced to resign and hounded out of country. (3) Military government set a good example for the rest of the judiciary and showed that it can hurt justices who cross the line. Prior to this incident, references have been filed against four other justices: Justice Hasan Ali Agha in 1951 (he was later exonerated), Justice Akhlaq Hussain in 1960 (he was removed) and justices Shaikh Shaukat Ali and Fazal Ghani in 1969 (both of them resigned).

    Military Rule

    ‘Military justice is to justice what military music is to music’. Groucho Marx

    During direct military rule, conflict between military justice system and civilian courts in inevitable. In case of Pakistan, higher judiciary has given legal cover to military rule, however even complaint judges sometimes find it very difficult to completely set aside fundamental judicial principles. This creates the rift and shuffling of judges is usually the norm during military rule. (4) There has been no large scale protest or judicial activity during various military governments.

    Higher courts have given some belated verdicts after the departure of the ruler which has no relevance. General Yahya Khan was forced to relinquish his office after the separation of East Pakistan in December 1971. Supreme Court belatedly ruled on April 07, 1972 that general Yahya Khan was a usurper. Some justices even went back to declare that President Iskandar Mirza and General Ayub Khan had committed treason when they suspended civilian rule in 1958. 1989, Zia dismissed Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo’s government. Zia died in a mysterious aero plane crash in August 1989. Members of the dissolved assembly challenged the decision. High courts and Supreme Court dismissed several of those petitions. In one case, Federation of Pakistan vs. Saifullah Khan, Supreme Court ruled that General Zia’s decision was unconstitutional but refused to restore the National Assembly. The reason for court’s refusal of restoration of assembly came to light three years later. Former Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg in an interview on February 04, 1993 admitted that he had sent an emissary, then senate chairman Wasim Sajjad to the Supreme Court to warn the justices not to restore the national assembly. Two weeks later, Supreme Court charged General Beg with contempt of court. Beg met with army Chief Abdul Waheed Kakar and later appeared defiantly in the court and many witnesses ridiculed the judges. Supreme Court could not handle the fallout from its confrontation with even a retired army chief. Court finally convicted him of contempt but strangely did not give any judgment about the sentence. The same court even overturned its own decision after an appeal was filed. After a year of half hearted measures, on January 09, 1994 the court dropped all proceedings against general Beg.

    In October 1958, when President Iskandar Mirza abrogated the constitution and declared Martial Law, Chief Justice Muhammad Munir helped Mirza and army chief General Ayub Khan in legal affairs. The very next day, Munir attended a meeting and gave Ayub Khan his ideas about a new constitution. Immediately after 1977 coup, General Zia contacted chief justice Muhammad Yaqub Ali who advised him that constitution should be held in abeyance. (5) Zia also made chief justices of high courts governors of their respective provinces. Zia was not sure how Yaqub was going to rule on the pending petition of Mrs. Nusrat Bhutto challenging Zia’s martial law and overthrow of her husband’s government. Yaqub was removed on September 22, 1997 by a curious method. Zia amended the constitution by withdrawing the Sixth Amendment (which had given Yaqub extension of his service) and Yaqub was out the door. Barely two months later on November 10, 1977, the new chief justice Anwarul Haq gave the expected decision of validating Zia’s martial law. During his eleven year rule, Zia avoided to appoint permanent chief justices of high courts. Chief justices functioned on acting basis for long period of time and many were confirmed and made permanent only very close to their dates of retirements. An acting chief justice is much easier to move or remove than a permanent one if government feels that he may give a judgment which can harm government’s position.

    In Pakistan, during military rule, constitution is usually amended to give legal cover to military decisions. In 1981, Zia promulgated Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and asked judges of the higher courts to take fresh oaths. This opportunity was used to sideline unwanted lot of judges. Fourteen judges were not offered the oath while three judges refused to take fresh oath resulting in retirement of seventeen judges in one shot. Two decades later, General Pervez Mussharraf adopted the same course. On October 12, 1999, General Mussharraf dismissed Nawaz Sharif government and took control of the country’s affairs. In January 2000, judges were asked to take a fresh oath under Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). PCO prevented courts from hearing any appeals against the actions of the military government. Government took advantage of this opportunity and some judges were not asked to take oath thus automatically sideling them while others refused to take fresh oath.

    In January 2002, Lahore high court was scheduled to start regular hearing of an appeal filed by sacked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif challenging General Mussharraf’s coup. On January 26, 2000, General Musharraf issued PCO to remove the jurisdiction of civilian courts in certain affairs. This was considered essential to give legal cover to decisions made by military rulers. Judges of superior courts had to take a fresh oath under PCO and anyone who was not offered to take oath or who refused stood retired. A day earlier, General Musharraf met with chief justice Saeeduzaman Siddiqi and asked him to take fresh oath under PCO but chief justice declined. Later that night, two serving generals and one retired general visited chief justice again and asked him to re-consider his decision but he again declined. Early in the morning, a colonel came to chief justice’s house asking him not to go to Supreme Court while his house was being cordoned off. Eighteen judges of superior courts; six judges of Supreme Court including chief justice, six of Sindh high court and four of North West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P.) and two of Punjab high court stood retired by this action. New judges were inducted to fill these positions. Four months later, the new bench of Supreme Court headed by a new chief justice (Irshad Hasan Khan) validated general Mussharraf’s coup. Supreme Court also gave general Musharraf the sweeping authority to amend the constitution, although none of the parties before the court sought court’s advice on this issue. (6) General Musharraf paid back the judges by a 30% increase of their salaries. Out of 12 judges of Supreme Court who legalized the coup, six were given three-year extension of their service. Three judges were given new lucrative assignments after retirement. In addition, military government increased the retirement age of judges of Supreme Court from 65 to 68 and those of high courts from 62 to 65. Thirty-seven judges of higher courts benefited from this three-year increase in their retirement age. (7) Later, court has given its opinion on several constitutional issues arising from general Mussharraf’s rule. In April 2005, a five member Supreme Court bench headed by chief justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqi rejected the petitions challenging the constitutionality of general Mussharraf holding the dual office of army chief and president of the country.

    Since general Mussharraf’s ascent to power in October 1999, country has seen eight chief justices of the Supreme Court. In the last few months chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudry got involved in some decisions which caused discomfort in the government’s quarters. He had cancelled the privatization of Karachi Steel Mills and construction of a golf club at a public park in Islamabad. He had also started entertaining petitions from families of missing persons believed to be picked up by intelligence agencies. He had a meeting with Director General of Inter Service Intelligence (DG ISI) and used some harsh language. Later, DG ISI had a meeting with General Mussharraf and allegedly told him that ‘your chief justice not only wants to run judicial affairs but now wants to run national security affairs’. On February 16, 2007, Naeem Bukhari, a senior attorney of Supreme Court wrote a letter condemning the attitude and behavior of chief justice and his treatment of lawyers in the court. He sent the letter to senior lawyers and various bar associations of the country. (8) Many lawyers agreed with Bukhari’s assessment and no one objected, however no one expected that General Mussharraf will send chief justice home.

    On March 09, General Mussharraf summoned chief justice to his office and in a brief encounter handed him the list of his misdeeds and asked him to resign. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz also met with chief justice and told him that government, military and ‘brother judges’ of supreme court were all in agreement about his ouster. After a brief encounter with Mussharraf, chief justice was kept at the place for few hours during which time, senior intelligence officers explained charges against him. Chaudry managed to get out without resigning and immediately contacted some of his close lawyer friends. His calls were being monitored and government decided to confine him to his house. (9) Chaudry was kept at president’s office until acting chief justice Javed Iqbal was sworn in. President also issued an order of restraint of chief justice to avoid any potential of mischief on part of chief justice. He referred the case of misconduct of chief justice to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). The response of general public and lawyer community was very negative and soon everybody was denouncing president’s arbitrary decision. Government had not expected such an outpour of sympathy for the restrained chief justice. General Mussharraf overplayed his hand when he had intelligence officials go over the details of Chaudry’s misdeeds. Chaudry after all is a legal mind and after seeing all the evidence showed to him by intelligence officials quickly realized that this evidence may not stand in SJC and opted for a showdown. It appears that legal wizard Shareefuddin Peerzada was not consulted prior to Mussharraf’s encounter with Chaudry. Military mind works on surprise and very small group of close confidants was privy to this decision. In addition, intriguing atmosphere, whispering, paranoia and staunch belief in conspiracy theories at the highest echelon of power in Islamabad is not conducive for an in house frank discussion prior to implementation of important decisions. General Mussharraf and his advisors on this matter fumbled with ‘suspension’ and ‘restraint’ of the chief justice. The order of ‘restraint’ was initially issued against the chief justice. However, later when Peerzada came into picture and informed the amateurs that president can not restrain a justice; chief justice was sent on a ‘forced leave’, a clause inserted during general Yahya Khan rule (1969-71).

    Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) consisting of five judges (two justices from supreme court, two chief justices of high courts and acting chief justice are members of SJC) headed by acting chief justice Rana Baghwandas started to hear the reference of misconduct against chief justice. Chaudry filed a constitutional petition asking a full court to hear his case rather than SJC. However, he asked that all senior judges who may benefit from his removal should be excluded. Acting chief justice constituted a five member bench of junior judges to hear Chaudry’s case. Government alarmed by this move filed a petition asking that a full court should hear the case. Veteran lawyer Shareefuddin Peerzada is on president’s team and he the question that only five junior judges including an ad hoc judge are hearing an important case while seven senior judges have been excluded. The five member bench halted proceedings of SJC and recommended a full court hearing of Chaudry’s case. Acting chief justice constituted a 14 member full bench to hear the petition excluding himself and three other justices (Abdul Hameed Dogar, Javed Iqbal and Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan). One of the member justice Falak Sher excused himself and bench was reconstituted with thirteen members. This bench headed by justice Khalil ur Rahman Ramday is now hearing the case of chief justice.

    Civilian Rule

    ‘Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened’. Winston Churchill

    When politicians are unable to solve political questions among themselves, usually Khakis barge in. Politicians claim that soldiers just crash into the corridors of power uninvited while soldiers maintain that they are sucked into the power against their wishes by fractious and intriguing politicians. There is a grain of truth in both statements. Sometimes, judicial branch of the government ends up handling questions which are essentially political in nature. Most of the judges are not comfortable with the notion of rendering judgments on political issues. Sitting on benches rendering political judgments can have many ‘occupational hazards’. During Benazir’s first term as Prime Minister, one supreme court judged complained to federal law minister that ‘please don’t send us all your political problems. That burden is too great for our shoulders’. (10)

    Civilian leaders when in power try to gather maximum power and politicians of all persuasions have tried to either undermine judiciary or fill it with sympathetic judges to get desired results. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the first civilian leader who had firm control over all affairs was instrumental in passing of the 1973 constitution. However, succumbing to his own authoritarian bent, he also managed to amend the constitution. Several amendments of 1973 constitution were related to judiciary. The Fourth Amendment of November 25, 1975 was related to preventive detention and power of high courts was restricted in this respect. Fifth Amendment of September 15, 1976 had several components to give executive leverage against judiciary. This amendment also fixed the tenure of chief justices of higher courts (Four years for high courts and five years for Supreme Court). It also gave executive the power to transfer a high court judge without his consent or consultation of chief justice. Executive could appoint a high court judge as puisne judge of supreme court and if he did not agree to his elevation he would automatically stand retired. When chief justice Yaqub Ali’s time came for retirement, constitution was conveniently amended (Sixth Amendment) which allowed chief justice to hold office for the proscribed term even if he have attained the retirement age.

    Civilian leaders have used all available means both fair and foul to prevent encroachment of judiciary which they perceive as their turf or to get desired judgments. In early 1993, relations between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and president Ghulam Ishaque Khan deteriorated quite rapidly and Khan was planning to ouster Sharif. Some statements attributed to chief justice Muhammad Afzal Zullah indicated that judiciary may act to counter president’s move. President waited till 18 April 1993; the day of retirement of chief justice. In a very curious development, chief justice on the very day of his retirement was on a plane heading out of country. Justice Nasim Hasan Shah was sworn in as acting chief justice; another curious move as he should have been appointed permanent chief justice. President dropped his guillotine on the same day sending Sharif and assembly packing home.

    When Sajjad A. Shah became chief justice, he had cordial relations with Benazir. Shah after assuming office agreed to government’s suggestion of appointing acting and ad hoc judges to Supreme Court and some of these nominees were retired judges. This move had been resisted by previous acting chief justice Sad Saud Jan. Seven justices (Zia M. Mirza, Fazal Karim, Munir Khan, Muhammad Ilyas, Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, Mukhtar A. Junejo and Irshad Hasan Khan) were appointed in this manner. The judgment of first political case decided on October 1994 by this new court showed where the court was heading. The case was of North West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P.) provincial assembly’s in house change by defection of two members where opposition provincial government had been replaced by People’s Party government headed by Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao. The ousted chief minister Pir Sabir Shah had approached the court. Supreme Court in a seven to five judgment rejected the petition. All judges who sided with chief justice’s view were those inducted in the last four months by Shah while all five permanent judges held the minority view. (11) Governments favor some judges for one reason or another and then expect that these judges will be acting as their agents in judiciary. However, there are some limits to how much judges can oblige. This was the main reason for deterioration of relations between Sajjad A. Shah and Benazir.

    When Benazir government was dismissed second time on November 05, 1996, governors of Punjab and N.W.F.P. provinces considered Benazir loyalists were removed and chief justices of high courts were sworn in as acting governors. President Farooq Ahmad Leghari pressurized these two justices turned acting governors to dissolve provincial assemblies and assured them that if they resigned from judiciary they would be retained as permanent governors. (12) President Muhammad Rafiq Tarar had the audacity to meet chief justice Ajmal Mian in his chamber at Supreme Court and ask him not to appoint Justice Falak Sher as acting chief justice of Lahore high court as government did not like him. Chief justice declined but government went ahead and nominated a junior justice Allah Nawaz as acting chief justice. (13) During her second term, Benazir Bhutto had appointed Sajjad Ali Shah chief justice over the head of three senior justices. She thought that Shah would return the favor. When tensions rose between chief justice and Benazir about the issue of appointment of some judges, government decided to strike back. First, former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah spilled the beans in a newspaper. He claimed that he had persuaded Benazir during her first term to elevate Sajjad to the post of chief justice of Sindh high court. In the second term, Benazir didn’t want to elevate Sajjad to the post of chief justice of supreme court but he along with Sindh chief minister Abdullah Shah and defense minister Aftab Shaban Mirani (all Sindhis) persuaded Benzair to appoint Sajjad A. Shah. (14) In the judge’s case, Supreme Court had ruled that senior most judge should be considered for appointment if there is no valid negative element against him. Government decided to beat chief justice with his own stick and now filed a review petition asking the court whether the rule of seniority applied to chief justice of the Supreme Court (referring to Shah’s elevation against the rule of seniority). Counsel for federation raised objection to Shah heading the bench to decide about his own appointment. Shah refused the request and continued to preside the bench and federal government withdrew the petition. Government also started to harass chief justice and his family. Several incidents such as snatching of one of the car used by chief justice at gun point and arrest of an armed intruder from his residence (police claimed that the man was mentally disturbed) raised suspicion about harassment. His son-in-law and other relatives were sacked from their jobs and police harassed them. During Nawaz Sharif’s first term, special courts were set up to prosecute certain crimes. A Supreme Appellate Court was set up to streamline appeal process and a supreme court judge was assigned to this court. When justice Sajjad Ali Shah sitting on this court acquitted one accused, Sharif was furious. He persuaded chief justice to remove Sajjad A. Shah and appoint justice Muhammad Rafiq Tarar (a Sharif loyalist).

    One example will show the modus operandi for the selection and appointment of the highest judicial authority of the country. In 1994, when Benazir decided to appoint Sajjad A. Shah as chief justice superceding three senior justices, she asked the intelligence agencies about the possible reaction from legal community. Shah was in Karachi sitting in his court hearing cases when law secretary (Justice Shaikh Riaz Ahmad) called him and asked him a curious question of what kind of dress he was wearing. Shah replied that he was in court therefore wearing official dress (Shirwani). Shah was told to head to the airport immediately without informing anyone and wait for next message. At airport, Shah boarded a special plane sent from Islamabad and on landing in Islamabad; he was taken to the president house where he met president and prime minister. He was then informed that he was being elevated to the office of chief justice and he took oath. When Shah developed differences with Benazir, she tried to cultivate other justices of the court. Benazir approached senior most judge of the supreme court, justice Ajmal Mian through a family friend Dr. Asim. Asim conveyed the message to Mian that Benazir was sorry that she appointed Sajjad A. Shah as chief justice and wanted to discuss the matter with him. Mian declined to meet Benazir secretly. She again approached Mian through Attorney General Qazi Muhammad Jamil suggesting that Mian should take up the case of appointment of Sajjad A. Shah while Shah was out of country. (15) Prime Minister of the country was encouraging a Supreme Court justice to act against his own chief justice. Such efforts damaged both the executive and the judiciary.

    Judicial Brawl

    ‘A weak man has doubts before a decision, a strong man has them afterwards’. Karl Kraus

    The judicial crisis of 1997 severely damaged country’s image and judiciary’s reputation. A reckless civilian prime minister and his cronies clashed head on with an equally reckless chief justice of the supreme court. A number of judges of supreme court openly rebelled against their own chief justice thus bringing the judiciary to new low levels. The saga of Byzantine intrigues was played at the highest levels making the country a laughing stock. The trouble between judges of supreme court had been brewing over a long time. In 1993, justice Sajjad A. Shah gave the lone dissenting opinion when Supreme Court restored Sharif government by a majority decision. Two judges; Muhammad Rafiq Tarar and Saeeduzzaman Siddiqi asked chief justice Nasim Hasan Shah to take disciplinary action against Sajjad A. Shah for the language he used in his dissenting note. (16) Chief justice didn’t take any action against Sajjad A. Shah but it caused a permanent rift. Supreme Court takes recess during summer vacations and if chief justice is out of country during recess it is not necessary to appoint an acting chief justice. In the summer of 1997, chief justice Sajjad A. Shah proceeded to an overseas trip. Incidentally second senior most justice Ajmal Mian was also abroad. Justice Saeeduzaman Siddiqi was in Islamabad when he was told that chief justice had left the country. He adjourned the proceedings, consulted lawyers and then called all supreme court registries to stop working. He declared that there was a constitutional crisis since no acting chief justice was appointed. He sent a letter to the federal government advising it to issue notification for appointment of acting chief justice. As he was the next senior judge, he was appointed acting chief justice. This caused a lot of bad blood between Saeeduzaman Siddiqi and Sajjad A. Shah and on his return Sajjad A. Shah conveyed his disapproval in writing.

    On October 09, 1997, chief justice went to Saudi Arabia and justice Ajmal Mian was sworn as acting chief justice. Mian spilled the beans on the same day he took oath. He told the press that Sajjad A. Shah had not consulted the judges for appointment of additional judges and that a full court meeting should decide this issue. A number of Supreme Court justices gave a written request for a full court meeting to discuss press statements of chief justice Sajjad A. Shah. Seven out of eleven judges signed the request and Mian set the date of October 13 for full court meeting. Sajjad A. Shah cut short his visit and dashed back. He cancelled the meeting, shuffled the roster and sent some of the rebellious justices for sittings in Lahore and Karachi. Another request of a full court meeting signed by seven justices was filed and chief justice rejected it by announcing his decision to the press. Now the conflict between supreme court justices was open and the game was played in the press. Six justices issued a press rejoinder and for the first time openly questioned the appointment of chief justice. Shah was fighting a two front war; one against the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and second against his own rebellious judges. (17) Shah belatedly called a full court meeting on October 17 but by that time the division among the justices was complete and all parties had crossed the point of no return.

    Chief Justice fired opening salvos against the Prime Minister Sharif by entertaining letters sent to him by opposition Pakistan Peoples Party members. One letter was sent to him by former defense minister Aftab S. Mirani on October 18 alleging that Sharif had favored a friend by giving him an import license. Another was sent by Senator Safdar Abbasi alleging that Sharif’s business house had acquired bank loans through political leverage. Another case of alleged illegal allotment of plot by Sharif and a petition challenging 14th Amendment (a hastily enacted amendment by Nawaz Sharif which prohibited members from voting against party line on any issue) was also entertained. In an astonishing move, four cases which could hurt Sharif were taken up by chief justice in a matter of two days. Chief justice asked the petitioners to hurry to his chamber within 72 hours to give their statements. He clearly conveyed the message that he was drawing the battle lines. In addition, using his authority as chief justice to set up rosters, he had sent all senior judges away from Islamabad and used ‘like minded’ junior justices for the benches to hear these cases. The message was now clear even to the blind that chief justice was positioning himself for sending the kind of fireballs which could prove fatal for Sharif. Chief justice stacked the deck against Sharif by comprising a three member bench headed by himself while the remainder two judges (Mukhtar A. Junejo and Bashir Jehangiri) were part of the chief’s loyal camp. Within a week the bench passed an interim order which prohibited action against any assembly member who violated 14thAmendment. Next day the same bench sent a note to the president ordering him to issue the notification of appointment of five Supreme Court justices recommended by chief justice.

    Sharif was counting on the rebellious justices of the Supreme Court before unloading his own ammunition. On October 21, six justices sent a protest note to chief justice and questioned his appointment. A copy of the note was also sent to the president. It was now Sharif’s turn and he showed his true colors when all kind of abuse was heaped up on chief justice both inside the parliament and in press statements. Contempt of court petitions were promptly filed against prime minister and some members of parliament and chief justice entertained them post haste adding another stone into his sling. For contempt hearing, chief justice comprised a three member bench which he presided. Later two more members were added. Chief justice had lined up his cavalry well and the four justices which he chose were a safe bet. Justice Bashir Jahangiri was on the same tune as chief justice. The other three justices; Muhammad Arif, Mamoon Qazi and Munir Shaikh had been elevated just few days earlier at the recommendation of chief justice against the wishes of the government. Shah was determined to humiliate Sharif by using his position of chief justice. On October 27, Shah took up the case of 14th Amendment and rejected government’s request of adjournment to study the case. On October 30, a three member bench headed by chief justice heard two petitions asking president to step in and issued a short order giving government thirty days to appoint five justices recommended by chief justice. In early November, chief justice shuffled the deck of justices when he decided to hear cases against Nawaz Sharif. He constituted two benches sitting in Islamabad. First was a three member bench headed by him (the other two Justices were Muhammad Arif and Bashir Jehangiri). The second was a two member bench of Justice Mukhtar Ahmad Junejo and Fazal Elahi Khan. Of five justices only one justice Fazal Elahi Khan was in the opposite camp thus the odds were four to one against Nawaz Sharif. On November 12, chief justice declined to appoint president’s nominee for acting Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and instead appointed Justice Mukhtar A. Junejo.

    Sharif covered his bases by hurriedly passing a Contempt of Court Bill to protect himself in case chief justice decided to convict him. However, he was advised by his legal team to go for the ‘original sin’ and that was to question the appointment of chief justice three years earlier. On November 17, a petition was filed in Sindh high court challenging the appointment of chief justice. A similar petition was filed in supreme court registry in Quetta challenging the appointment of chief justice. Few days later, another petition challenging appointment of chief justice was field before supreme court registry in Peshawar. On November 26, 1997, a two member bench (Nasir A. Zahid and Khalil ur Rahman) sitting in Quetta issued an order that the issue of chief justice’s appointment should be forwarded to chief justice for a full court hearing. Few days later, another two member bench of the same court (Khalil ur Rahman and Irshad Hasan Khan) issued an unprecedented order suspending their own chief justice. Chief justice passed an administrative order suspending Quetta registry’s order which was received at Quetta in the evening. Justices in Quetta were at their rest house. The esteemed judges took up the case in the rest house and decided that chief justice’s order was null and therefore should be ignored. A two member bench (Saeeduzzaman Siddiqi and Fazal Elahi Khan) at Peshawar entertained a petition by an ally of Sharif challenging the appointment of chief justice. This bench decided that chief justice could not perform judicial and administrative functions therefore he could not suspend the bench’s order. In an unprecedented move, justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqi issued order to the registrar of Supreme Court to place all cases before the senior most judge justice Ajmal Mian and asked Mian to constitute a full bench. When Mian declined, in another mind boggling development justice Saeeduzzaman himself ordered the constitution of the full bench of Supreme Court (excluding Justices Sajjad Ali Shah and Ajmal Mian) to deliberate on chief justice’s appointment. Sajjad A. Shah sent a letter to the president asking him to refer justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqi to SJC for disciplinary action. President forwarded that request to prime minister to take appropriate action. With this open rebellion against chief justice, government announced that it will not accept any decision of chief justice Sajjad A. Shah in all the cases as he had become controversial.

    December 01, 1997 was the darkest day in the history of Pakistan’s judiciary. Two orders were issued for the constitution of benches; one by chief justice Sajjad A. Shah heading a five member bench for hearing the cases while the other by justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqi heading a fifteen member bench to decide about the fate of Sajjad A. Shah. On December 02, two parallel courts were set up inside supreme court. Chief justice had hedged his bets and had two benches set up: one was a five member bench headed by him to hear contempt case against prime minister and another three member bench headed also by him to hear the constitutionality of 13th Amendment (this amendment had removed president’s discretionary power to dismiss prime minister and assembly). In the other room Justice Saeeduzzaman presided over the assembly of ten other justices to decide chief justice’s fate. Shah decided to go for the coup de grace. He sat on the bench hearing 13th Amendment, fired his final volley and announced an order suspending the 13th Constitutional Amendment which now freed president’s hand and allowed him to dismiss assembly. Attorney general rushed to the room next door and asked justice Saeeduzzaman to suspend the interim order passed by chief justice sitting next door. This bench was assembled to decide about the fate of Sajjad A. Shah and had no written request about any other issue. However in another unprecedented move justice Saeeduzzaman suspended the order of his own chief justice on verbal request from attorney general. Saeeduzzaman also issued order of restraining the chief justice and directed president to issue the notification of appointment of justice Ajmal Mian as acting chief justice. (18) In the meantime, the blood was also drawn at the presidency and president Farooq A. Leghari resigned and senate chairman Wasim Sajjad took the oath of acting President.

    In this conflict, the battle was quite ugly where cabinet ministers and members of national assembly passed derogatory remarks about judges and even stormed the supreme court building on November 28. Retired justice of Supreme Court Muhammad Rafiq Ahmad Tarar played the most despicable role of working with some judges of the supreme court and exploited the division among superior court justices to achieve desired results. One day prior to the order of two Supreme Court justices sitting in Quetta questioning the appointment of chief justice, Tarar flew to Quetta in a special plane accompanied by Shahbaz Sharif and met with these justices. After an intense activity of palace intrigues, rebellious justices of the Supreme Court entertained a case against appointment of Sajjad A. Shah in Peshawar high court which was pending for over two years. Government acted on Supreme Court’s decision and denotified appointment of chief justice Sajjad A. Shah and relegated him as ordinary judge. Justice Ajmal Mian was sworn as new acting chief justice. A new chapter in judicial history was written in Pakistan which probably no other country can boast. A group of ten supreme court justices deposed their own chief justice and then nominated an acting chief justice among themselves. They excluded five brother judges who were viewed sympathetic to Sajjad A. Shah. An acting president then appointed an acting chief justice who was administered an oath by another Supreme Court justice Saeeduzaman Siddiqi who had taken upon himself to decide what was to be done. In an ironic twist, among the ten justices who decided that Sajjad A. Shah’s appointment was unlawful, eight had been administered oath none other than Sajjad A. Shah. Chief justice was perfectly legal when he administered oath to them but later they changed their mind. Another interesting fact was that justice Shaikh Riaz Ahmad was sitting on this bench who three years ago as federal law secretary had issued the notification of appointment of chief justice Sajjad A. Shah. Later in an interview, Saedduzzaman defended his action of working with government to boot out his own chief justice. (19) On December 23, 1997 Supreme Court ruled that their own chief justice who had already served for three years was chief justice no more and should be reverted to the position of a justice in Supreme Court (Sajjad A. Shah took a leave and retired). The decision had some serious legal ramifications such as what was the status of the decisions taken by Sajjad A. Shah as chief justice. The court bailed itself out by ruling that all decisions made by Sajjad A. Shah as chief justice would be valid using the doctrine of de facto.

    One last parting shot was fired by one justice sympathetic to Sajjad A. Shah. In the battle between chief justice and prime minister, president had become the casualty and had to resign. New president had to be elected and sworn in within thirty days. Justice Mukhtar A. Junejo was serving as acting Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and in this capacity was also returning officer for the election of President of Pakistan scheduled for December 31, 1997. Nawaz Sharif’s candidate was Rafiq Tarar. On December 18, Juenjo entertained a petition filed by opposition Pakistan Peoples Party’s former minister Aftab S. Mirani. Justice Junejo rejected the nomination papers of Tarar stating that in view of Tarar’s previous derogatory remarks about judiciary made him ineligible to be elected to the parliament and henceforth he could not be elected president. An appeal was filed against the rejection at Lahore high court where chief justice Rashid Aziz Khan declaring conflict decided not to sit on bench. High court suspended CEC’s order and allowed Tarar to contest election. On December 28, Justice Junejo was booted out and acting president appointed justice Abdul Qadeer Chaudry as permanent CEC. In 1997, Pakistan surely wrote some new chapters in judicial history. A permanent president (Farooq A. Leghari) appointed an acting CEC but when it became inconvenient an acting president (Wasim Sajjad) now appointed a permanent CEC.

    Whigs, Robes & Shirwanis

    ‘We have too many high sounding words and too few actions that correspond with them’. Abigail Admas

    Civilian and military rulers have been helped by eminent legal minds in judicial and constitutional matters. These legal celebrities change their own ideas depending on the situation. Governor General Ghulam Muhammad after dismissing Nazimuddin’s cabinet appointed A.K. Barohi as his law minister. Barohi was a strong advocate of a secular constitution and agreed with all those who wanted to keep religious leaders out of political arena. However when winds changed, then Barohi’s ideas also changed. Barohi later became legal advisor to General Zia and helped him to Islamize the country. Another bright legal mind is S. M. Zafar who had pleaded many cases of those in power. In 1997, while representing prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a contempt of court hearing, he argued that ‘another reason why the chief justice should drop the charges was that he was from Sindh and in Sindh there was a tradition that if someone comes to the house of a Sindhi, then all complaints against the guest were dropped’. (20) Very few lawyers can boast about presenting such arguments in defense of their clients in a court of law. Shareefuddin Peerzada is an old hand who is nicknamed ‘jadugar’ (magician). He has an unbeatable record of faithfully serving military rulers spanning almost the whole history of Pakistan including Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq and Pervez Mussharraf. He has been gifted with the rare ability to pull different varieties of rabbits from his legal hat to fulfill the needs of military rulers.

    Under the shadow of judicial activism, many judges crossed the fine line and many at times conveyed their biases prior to evaluating the full body of evidence. Chief justice Nasim Hassan Shah at the start of hearing of dismissal of Nawaz Sharif government stated that he will not be another Munir (referring to chief justice Muhammad Munir’s decision of validating Ayub Khan’s coup in 1958) and that ‘the nation will hear a good news’. During 1997 elections, chief justice Sajjad A. Shah toured Lahore for few hours and made his mind about low turn out of voters. Later that evening talking to Governor of Punjab Khawaja Tariq Rahim he remarked that if there was such a low turn out of elections and ‘if the results of the election were challenged in court on the ground that it lacked participation by the majority of the people, it was possible that the court could reject the result’. He later repeated these remarks to caretaker prime minister Malik Meraj Khalid. (21) At other times justices have actively taken the side of the executive even at the expense of the independence of their own institution or given judgments for petty personal interests. In November 1977, chief justice Anwar ul Haq upheld Zia’s martial law under the doctrine of necessity. One day before the judgment, he called Zia’s legal advisor Shareefuddin Peerzada to inform him about the judgment. Peerzada asked chief justice if he had given the authority of amending the constitution to General Zia. Haq replied that he had not given that authority to General Zia. Peerzada told him that without giving Zia the authority to amend the constitution, chief justice will be out of his job and a new chief justice will need to be sworn in. Hearing that Anwarl ul Haq inserted the words of ‘including the power to amend it (the constitution)’ in the judgment in his own hand writing. (22) He had done this without consulting other justices who were unaware of this last minute back channel communication between chief justice and government’s legal advisor. It is ironic that in 1979, chief justice of Supreme Court Anwar ul Haq and chief justice of Lahore high court Maulvi Mushtaq Hussain held brain storming sessions with General Zia ul Haq at his residence to help the military ruler draft a Constitutional Amendment (Article 212-A) to curtail the activities of their own institution. This amendment removed any oversight by civilian courts against the judgments of military courts. (23)

    The conflict between judiciary and executive in 1997 showed that there was very little if any regard for the most important institutions of the state. The high office holders merely used their positions to fulfill their narrow personal interests rather than defending any high ideals. Prime Minister used his absolute majority in the parliament in a very irresponsible way by hastily enacting new laws and even amending the constitution without any serious debate. It made mockery of the whole concept of representative government. On the other hand, bitter infighting among Supreme Court justices and reckless attitude of the chief justice shocked everyone. Chief justice really became a loose canon acting way beyond the legal norms. In an unprecedented manner, he was issuing orders from the bench ordering the president to nominate justices which he had selected. He was also issuing and suspending executive orders and even suspending constitutional provisions in a cavalier manner simply to humiliate Prime Minister.

    A former chief justice Saeeduzaman Siddiqui long after his retirement pontificated that ‘by legitimizing military takeovers, the judges have abdicated their role to defend the constitution. (24) Siddiqui was the judge who colluded with the sitting government to oust his own chief justice. In addition, he served as chief justice for three month after General Mussharraf’s take over before being sent to the retirement wilderness . He conveniently forgot that during his tussle with chief justice, a number of senior lawyers came as mediators requesting supreme court judges to sort out their differences amicably to safeguard the sanctity of the institution of the supreme court but he went ahead and played a leading role in writing a sad chapter in the judicial history of Pakistan.

    In 1996, supreme court deliberated about appointment of judges. Government fearful of the fact that the judgment will hamper its efforts to induct favorite judges pre-empted supreme court. The judgment was to be announced on March 20, 1996. On March 19, government announced the appointment of twenty judges to Lahore high court and seven to Sindh high court. Acting chief justices of both courts; justice Irshad Hasan Khan of Lahore court and justice Abdul Hafeez Memon of Sindh court were Supreme Court justices who were deputed as acting chief justices, administered oaths to new judges without even informing let alone consulting with the chief justice of the Supreme Court. (25) Both acting chief justices were appointees of Benazir and they returned the favor by administering oaths to newly inducted judges favored by government without informing the chief justice. Supreme Court justices finalized the draft of the order to be issued in case of recommendations about appointment of judges to higher courts. Government had pre-empted their move by appointing 27 additional judges to Lahore and Sindh high courts. Judges had decided to adhere to seniority principle and the short order was announced on March 20. One week later, chief justice Sajjad A. Shah held a meeting with president and agreed to confirm three acting/ad hoc judges (Justices Mukhtar A. Junejo, Raja Afrasiab Khan and Muhammad Bashir Jehangiri) as a ‘gesture of good will’ to the government. Within a week, chief justice had back tracked from the consensus opinion of the supreme court justices. He did not consult his fellow justices and it was no wonder that three justices (Ajmal Mian, Saeeduzaman Siddiqi and Munawar Mirza) admonished Shah for flouting the judgment regarding ‘judges’ case’. (26)

    In an effort to avoid conflict with fellow judges or to be on the correct side, some justices didn’t live up to the expectations. In 1996, during the final version of the judgment of ‘Judges case’, there was disagreement between chief justice Sajjad A. Shah’s and justice Ajmal Mian’s version. Justice Fazal Ilahi Khan singed on Mian’s judgment on March 20 but when chief justice pressed him, he also signed on Shah’s judgment on April 3 even without reading it. When asked whether he had read the judgment because there was discrepancy between two judgments, he replied that he had no time to read it before signing it. (27) Fazal Ilahi Khan wanted to hedge his bets and did not want to ruffle any feathers even if meant an indefensible action. Retired justice Rafiq Tarar who had played an important role in splitting the judiciary at the behest of Nawaz Sharif became president of the country. When he had retired from Supreme Court in November 1994, he was not given a reference at his own request. Five years later, Supreme Court decided to honor him and he was invited for a dinner at supreme court where he was given a shield which was signed by all justices. (28)

    The complex relationship of personal and professional responsibilities can be judged from one example. Agha Rafiq Ahmad, a junior session judge was a close friend of Benazir’s husband Asif Ali Zardari and he had helped in Sajjad A. Shah’s elevation to the post of chief justice of Sindh high court through Sindh chief minister Abdullah Shah, during Benzair’s first tenure (1988-1990). When Benazir was considering Sajjad for chief justice slot, Zardari held several meetings with Sajjad A. Shah and Agha Rafiq was present in some of those meetings. When Sajjad became chief justice of Supreme Court, he paid back his old friend. Agha Rafiq was serving as Director of PIA. Sajjad advised Benazir to appoint Rafiq as law secretary in the Sindh government and after sometime there he will be qualified to be appointed as a judge of higher court. (29) However, everyone was impatient and when Zardari wanted to elevate Rafiq to high court, Shah told prime minister that Rafiq was a very junior session’s judge (number 34 on the seniority list of 37) and it would create problems. However, Rafiq was elevated as Sindh high court justice. Chief justice of Sindh high court Abdul Hafeez Memon was pressured by a senator to nominate another junior session judge Shah Nawaz Awan (number thirteen on seniority list) for high court appointment. When chief justice Sajjad A. Shah asked Memon why he nominated him, he was told that he was being pressurized and the senator who wanted him to be elevated told Memon that if a judge who was number thirty four was being nominated then what was wrong with nominating number thirteen on the same list. (30)

    Nawaz Sharif government elevated justice Mehbood Ahmad as chief justice of Lahore high court and second aspirant justice Muhammad Ilyas felt let down. Sajjad A. Shah, who was justice of supreme court at that time visited him and told him that ‘he should put his faith and trust in God, who would not let him down and would compensate him in some other way’. When Shah became chief justice, he nominated Ilyas who was by then retired for justice of supreme court. After taking oath, Ilyas was sent as acting chief justice of Lahore high court. (31) A judge was appointed to the supreme court not because he was fit for the post but to compensate him for some alleged injustice done to him and legal balls were juggled to give him the satisfaction to end his career serving as chief justice of a high court. A special accountability court headed by justice Malik Abdul Qayyum sentenced Benazir Bhutto and her husband on corruption charges during Nawaz Sharif’s government. In April 2001, supreme court set aside the judgment during the appeal when 32 tapes of secret conversations between justice Qayyum and then head of Accountability Cell and Nawaz Sharif’s aid Senator Saif ur Rahman were played. Sharif government had pressurized justice Qayyum to convict Benazir and her husband. (32)

    Appointing judges as acting head of executives (Governor General, President, and Governor) gives some leverage to government. This practice has been followed for a long time in Pakistan. In 1950s, Munir served as acting Governor General when Ghulam Muhammad was away from country. Acceptance of positions in government during active service and openly joining politics after retirement also tarnishes the image of judiciary and creates doubts about their impartiality. Chief justice Muhammad Munir gave the historic decision of validation of General Ayub Khan’s martial law in 1958. Immediately after his retirement he accepted a government job in Japan. Later he also served as law minister during General Ayub’s rule. Political governments take care of their favorite justices even if they are pushed aside by their own brother justices. In 1996, Supreme court laid down guidelines for appointment to higher judiciary. This affected two retired justices who were appointed ad hoc justices of the Supreme Court and they were removed from Supreme Court. Benazir government obliged them by appointing one (Justcie Munir Khan) as provincial ombudsman and the other (Justcie Mir Hazar Khan Khoso) member of high powered Federal Public Service Commission.

    Justcie Irshad Hasan Khan served as federal law secretary during the Martial Law of General Zia. He later rose to become chief justice of the Supreme Court (January 26, 2000 – January 06, 2002). High court justice Ghaus Ali Shah joined Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif and served as Sharif’s confidant for long time. Supreme Court justice Afzal Lone was sitting on the bench which restored Nawaz Sharif government in 1993. Later he headed the Lone Commission which absolved Nawaz Sharif of any wrongdoing in the cooperative scandal. Later, Sharif paid Lone back by nominating him to become senator. Supreme court justice Muhammad Rafiq Tarar after his retirement served Sharif’s business interests and was later elected senator on Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League ticket. He was duly rewarded by appointing him president for his loyal services. Tarar paid back by retaining his post when he agreed to general Mussharraf’s request to stay on as president when the later had booted out Nawaz Sharif and assemblies. Mussharraf in turn returned the compliment by unceremoniously sending Tarar home in June 2001. Tarar was booted out of the presidency by putting him in a private car and sent home in the most humiliating way. Mussharraff needed to act in this way not for a great national cause but he needed to get the lofty title of president to get the correct protocol during his upcoming visit to India.

    If one takes into account the relationship of various judges with their political patrons and their judgments on crucial cases, then some questions arise about the motive of their judgments. Justcie Tarar saw everything wrong with Nawaz Sharif dismissal by president in 1993 and was as one of the justice of the Supreme Court bench which decided to restore Sharif government. Justcie Sajjad A. Shah saw everything wrong with Benazir’s dismissal in 1990. He was one of the two dissenting judges (the other one was Justcie Abdul Shakurul Salam) in a 1991 decision who did not approve of president’s decision to dismiss Benazir. He wrote that president had exercised his power with ‘malafide intention’. (33) In 1993, Shah saw everything right with Sharif’s dismissal and was the lone dissenter in a ten to one decision of Supreme Court which restored Sharif government. In 1997, when his relations had gone sour with Benazir, he viewed dismissal of Benazir kosher and even called president’s discretion of sacking prime minister as a balance of powers and ‘a safety valve to prevent imposition of martial law in the country’. (34) When president dismissed Benazir government in 1990, the dismissal was challenged in courts. Peshawar high court bench dismissed the petition by majority but justice Qazi M. Jamil was the dissenting judge. Jamil was also on the bench which restored provincial assembly. For these ‘crimes’, he was not confirmed by the president. Benazir duly rewarded Qazi M. Jamil by appointing him attorney general during her second term.

    Chief justice Nasim H. Shah’s favorable tilt towards Muslim League and his antipathy towards Pakistan Peoples Party were well known. He had exchanged harsh words with chief justice Muhammad A. Zullah when later received Benazir at a function when she was opposition leader. He headed the bench which restored Sharif government in 1993. He had been humiliated earlier during Benazir government when Benazir refused to sit on the same table with him. The reason was that Nasim H. Shah was one of the justices who had upheld the death sentence of Benazir’s father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1979 (Nasim H. Shah was one of the majority justices on the bench which had given a four to three verdict of rejection of appeal of death sentence).

    When chief justice Sajjad A. Shah was booted out by his own brother judges, the new court decided to clear up some contentious issues. All cases involving government and Prime Minister were dealt with judgments favorable to the government’s position. In March 1998, a seven member bench dismissed the petition challenging the 13th Constitutional Amendment. Interestingly, the petitioner was now not enthusiastic about perusing the case which suggests that the petition was part of the tussle between then chief justice (Sajjad A. Shah) and Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif) and after the ouster of chief justice no one was interested in it. In May 1999, the court acquitted all who were charged with contempt of court including prime minister and several members of parliament. After the dismissal of Nawaz Sharif’s government an appeal was field against acquittal in September 2000. A five member bench of supreme court heard the appeal and convicted seven accused of contempt of court sentencing them to one month imprisonment and 5000 rupees fine. (35) Such decisions only degrade the image of judiciary and average citizen loses faith in the institution.

    Far Below the Benchmark

    ‘Trust thyself only, and another shall not betray thee’. Thomas Fuller

    Corruption is systemic in all institutions of the country and lower levels of judiciary are rife with corruption. Pakistani society in general and especially the ruling elites are obsessed with petty protocol issues and judiciary is no exception to this trend. Genuine disagreements are seen as personal affronts and humiliating others is seen as a justifiable response. Justice S. M. A. Samdani served as law secretary during Zia’s military rule. During a meeting, there had been some skirmish between the two. In 1981, when new oath was administered to judges, Zia told Punjab Governor Lieutenant General Ghulam Jilani not to offer oath to Samdani who had arrived all dressed up to take the oath but went home disappointed. (36) Zia took his revenge by insulting a high court justice while the judge having no scruples to serve a military regime wanted to also play the cowboy by locking horns with generals.

    Even senior judges of supreme court clash with each other about petty protocol matters. On June 5, 1994, Benazir appointed Sajjad A. Shah as chief justice by superceding three judges senior to him (Sad Saud Jan, Abdul Qadeer Chaudry and Ajmal Mian). This started the rift between senior judges of the highest court of the land. Five judges of supreme court were in Karachi at that time (Ajmal Mian, Saedduzaman Siddiqi, Wali Muhammad, Abdul Qadeer and Saleem Akhtar). Government sent a special plane to get Sajjad A. Shah for oath taking ceremony in Islamabad. Government asked that any judge who wanted to attend the ceremony could accompany Shah but none of the judges decided to join their newly appointed chief justice for the oath taking ceremony. (37) When Sajjad A. Shah was appointed chief justice, the three senior judges though bitter neither challenged the legality of the appointment nor offered to resign. They decided to take their revenge from inside and clashed with Shah on various matters. This was most obvious during the deliberations about ‘Judges case’. Sajjad A. Shah knowing that his own appointment was made by superceding three judges senior to him deliberated on all aspects of the matters pertaining to appointment of justices but ducked the crucial question of his own appointment. When he discussed his own draft of the judgment with judges, justice Ajmal Mian remarked that ‘it would be the first time in judicial history that a Chief Justcie of the highest court in the land constituted a bench of his choice, presided over it and decided constitutionally about his own appointment’. (38) The senior most judge was j