Let’s cut to the chase with this one. We’ve never seen a Chief Justice like this. But as judges tend to do, he might just be setting a precedent, one for judicial (over?) activism.
Jurists, especially of the British tradition as we have in Pakistan, are supposed to be hard nosed figures. But as Justice Nisar so proudly referred to himself earlier this year, he is Pakistan’s first ‘Awami’ chief justice.
The maverick Chief Justice assumed office on the last day of 2016. 2017 was his first year, where he proved to be a more proactive top judge than most. But it was 2018 when the gloves really came off.
Suo motto after suo motto and statement after statement unheard of from the judiciary had everyone on their toes. Few were spared, and while some got more of the long arm of the law than others, Justice Nisar even had Imran Khan apologising about his party’s performance in KP! From surprise ward visits in government hospitals, to calling in Dr Shahid Masood over claims he made about the Zainab murder case, his lordship didn’t seem to take a break. Those that were left unscathed, of course, were the ones that mattered. And when another Justice tried their hand at maybe calling out those that must not be named, they found themselves crashing and burning, also at the hands of Justice Nisar.
But it was to be the latter half of the year that really marked him as a Chief Justice like no other. There has been great controversy surrounding the infamous Diamer Bhasha Dam fund started by the Supreme Court. It sounds odd even saying it, a charity fund for dams set up by the supreme court. Justice Nisar has been party to some momentous decisions in this country, but his legacy will be the dam fund. As he gets ready to retire on January 18, he will have some soul searching to do about how he ended his career as a jurist.