–Incoming CJP says it’s time to refurbish entire justice system, announces crusade against frivolous litigation, fake witnesses and false testimonies
–Justice Khosa touches upon role of army in governance, misuse of power by executive
–Underlines issue of enforced disappearances, says national security cannot be pursued by employing methods which are offensive to fundamental rights
–Outgoing CJP Nisar says ‘worked for rights of the oppressed and gave all citizens the right to lead their lives with respect’
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice-designate Asif Saeed Khosa on Thursday said that the Supreme Court shall use suo motu powers –Article 184(3) — sparingly, with the exception of cases where either there is no other efficacious remedy available or the available constitutional or legal remedies are ineffective or are rendered incapacitated.
Addressing a full court reference held in the honour of outgoing Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar held at Supreme Court, the incoming CJP also hinted at laying down the scope and parameters of exercise of the original jurisdiction of the Article 184(3).
The ceremony was attended by all Supreme Court judges — with the exception of Justice Mansoor Ali Shah — as well as Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor, Vice Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Kamran Murtaza, retired senior judges as well as senior journalists, among others. Justice Nisar’s family was also in attendance.
In addition, the court, if deemed appropriate, would carve out the scope of an intra-court appeal in such matters through an appropriate amendment of the Supreme Court Rules or to suitably amend the provisions relating to review jurisdiction so as to enlarge its scope in such cases.
Lauding the outgoing CJP, Justice Khosa said Nisar faced many constitutional, societal and political challenges during his tenure; however, he steered the judiciary clear through these “very difficult circumstances”. Justice Nisar’s services for humanitarian causes will be remembered, he added.
Outlining his plan for his upcoming tenure as the top judge, Justice Khosa said that he will ensure the quick dispensation of justice.
Referring to Justice Nisar’s efforts to raise donations to build the Diamer-Bhasha Dams, Justice Khosa said that he too he wanted to build a dam. “I will build a dam against fake cases, pending cases and fake witnesses,” he promised.
“Currently there are 1.9 million cases pending in courts. Three thousand judges cannot dispense of so many cases,” Justice Khosa noted.
“Successive governments have failed to suitably increase the number of judges and magistrates on account of financial constraints,” he said, adding the situation requires some big decisions.
“It is also time to introduce some structural and systemic changes so as to minimise litigation, eliminate unnecessary delays and rationalise the workload. Time has also come when the judicial system as a whole needs to be redesigned or restructured and made simple and effective.”
The CJP-designate also commented on the military courts. “Military courts trying civilians in criminal cases are universally perceived as an aberration propelled by necessity and expediency,” he said.
“If the legislature, in its own wisdom, decides to continue with such courts for the time being then it may consider providing for appeals from their decisions to lie before a high court so as to adjust such courts in the normal judicial hierarchy and to ensure that expediency does not trump justice,” he went on to add.
SEEKS SUMMIT OVER INSTITUTIONAL DISCORD:
Speaking about other state institutions, he said, “There is a prevailing sense of distrust between institutions…the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers is sound and valid so far as the institutional and operational independence of every organ of the State is concerned but nothing in the said doctrine demands institutional isolation or forbids collective efforts to achieve common good.”
He said the misuse of authority stems from legislators encroaching upon the executive domain through development funds and through interference in appointment, posting, transfer or promotion of public servants.
“Let us also discuss, without mincing words or feeling shy, the role of the armed forces and the intelligence agencies in the governance paradigm,” he said, adding that civilian supremacy was sine qua non for democratic sustainability.
Underscoring the grave issue of enforced disappearances, he said there was a need to discuss the issue and its adverse impact upon the constitutional scheme of things as well as national cohesion. He said that in a “constitutional democracy national security cannot be pursued by employing methods which are offensive to the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights to life and liberty”.
He further proposed holding of an inter-institutional dialogue at the summit level and would request the president to convene a meeting and to chair the deliberations so as to ensure that such mistakes are not repeated in future.
JUSTICE NISAR SAYS GAVE SEVERAL LANDMARK VERDICTS:
Meanwhile, outgoing CJP Nisar said that the top court gave several landmark decisions, including that of Gilgit Baltistan.
“We took notice of water scarcity in the country and the whole nation donated to resolve the issue,” he added. “Another issue that the court raised was that of the rapid increase in population,” the outgoing chief justice further said.
Sharing the achievements of the Supreme Court during his term, Justice Nisar said, “We worked for the rights of the oppressed and gave all citizens the right to lead their lives with respect.”
“We granted overseas Pakistanis the right to vote,” he continued. “We took notice of the high fee charged by private hospitals as well as the matter of granting Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) to transgender persons.”
“The top court took notice of child domestic workers, including Tayyaba,” the outgoing chief justice said. “We tried to resolve issues of health, education and lifestyle as per the rights granted by the Constitution.”
“I tried to return the respect that people honoured me with,” Justice Nisar further stated.
“The work of judges is extremely difficult and corruption in judiciary is equivalent to the murder of justice,” he further said.
PBC’s Vice Chairman Murtaza, while speaking at the ceremony, said that Justice Nisar had availed the authority granted to judiciary under Article 184(3) (Original jurisdiction of Supreme Court).
Murtaza said that while he was one of the opponents of Article 184(3), he had no doubts about the intentions of Justice Nisar. However, Murtaza said, the “matter of Article 184(3)’s limitations must be resolved”.
Addressing the ceremony, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Amanullah Kanrani said that recently “the judges’ tone has become so harsh that it distracts the court and lawyers from their basic purpose”.
“Lawyers are not given a chance to present facts and arguments,” he said. He further said that the “huge amount of suo motu cases” leads to a delay in the proceedings of other petitions. Kanrani also suggested that the appellants be allowed to appeal against the verdicts passed in suo motu cases.
The SCBA president also said that “informal remarks” passed by judges and lawyers during court proceedings affect the “minds of petitioners”. Kanrani insisted that there was a need to hold judges accountable.
While the outgoing CJP remained particularly active in matters related to maladministration and public interest, records show that there were more than 42,000 cases pending before the Supreme Court (SC) in November 2018, with an increase of 2,125 over a one-year period.
According to the fortnightly Summary Statement of Case Institution, Disposal and Pendency, the number of pending cases in the apex court stood at 42,254 on November 30, 2018.
During Chief Justice Nisar’s 20-month tenure, almost 8,000 cases have been added to the litigations pending in the apex court. Overall, there has been a 100 per cent increase in the backlog of SC cases since 2013, when the number of pending cases was 20,480.