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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial Monday said on holding of general elections within 90 days there is no difference among the apex court judges.

“None of us is alone in this cause,” said CJP Bandial, while addressing the New Judicial Year ceremony on Monday.

Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan, Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Haroonur Rasheed, and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Abid Shahid Zuberi also spoke on the occasion.

Lawyers demand polls within 90 days

The CJP’s speech on New Judicial Year cast doubts about his farewell, a Full Court reference, which is held in the honour of outgoing judge, conducted mostly on the last day of the retiring judge. The Full Court reference is addressed by the outgoing and the incoming chief justice as well.

Justice Bandial in New Judicial Year address said: “This may be my last speech as chief justice. Today, when I am speaking to you as the Chief Justice, there is a sense of gratitude and hope.” “As an outgoing chief justice, I must share that I have learned not only through their (the SC judges’) consensus but with their differences as well,” he added.

The chief justice said in one year, the Supreme Court decided 23,000 cases, adding constitutional issues were filed before the Court. The court was tested several times in February 2023 with matters pertaining to the constitution. “The contest was not just hostile and aggressive, but its result was that we set back in our reforms.” “I don’t want to repeat all that has happened but it is reflected in part in the decision announced last week [audio leaks case],” the CJP further said.

He said difficulties arose when there was no political stability in the country. “We all want political stability because without it there can’t be progress in economic and other sectors.”

“I know my successor is conscious of all the issues that the Court is facing,” adding the incoming chief justice is a very able person.

The chief justice regretted that his statements of “short and sweet judgment” and “good to see you” were misreported by the media. At the conclusion of Imran Khan’s petition against the amendments in the NAO, 1999, the CJP Bandial had said; “Short and sweet judgment” will be announced soon. This remark was widely reported in the media.

During the New Judicial Year proceeding, Justice Bandial said: “My innocent statement “short and sweet judgment” turned into a sarcastic statement,” adding; my words of greetings “good to see you” were also misreported and taken out of context.“

He said in the summer, the judges worked tirelessly in writing judgments and hearing cases in the courts. We have worked 13 to 16 hours daily, he added.

He also said that in a SC judgment, they had laid down the procedure for taking suo motu. In nine months we have taken only one suo motu. “We are able to enhance the scope of arguments by the lawyers through video-link. In one year 10,000 people utilised this facility, top of using this facility is Lahore, second Peshawar then Karachi, Quetta, and Islamabad.”

Justice Bandial said with the help of the Law and Justice Commission, Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) has been introduced throughout the country, adding with its effective usage the burden on courts will be reduced.

In the end, the chief justice appreciated the role of the media, saying they are the eyes and ears of society. He also thanked the SC judges. “I want to [thank my] brother and sister judges, the manner I got their support.” He said the judges of the apex court are independent minds, fearless and extraordinary intellectuals, adding they have a difference of opinion, which is good for the growth of the institution.

AGP Mansoor, in his address, said the apex court must dedicate more of its time and energy to cases under its appellate jurisdiction, under Article 185 of the Constitution, than it does to its original jurisdiction, under Article 184(3).

The exercise of original jurisdiction, especially in what are often called “high profile or political cases”, usually requires the SC judges to sit in special benches at the expense of the Court’s appellate function which, if I may say so, is this Court’s primary function and duty.

The original jurisdiction must be used sparingly and in the most extraordinary cases. The constitution requires that this jurisdiction ought to be exercised for matters of public importance related to the enforcement of fundamental rights only.

The court must remain cautious of the principles of separation of powers. When the Court disregards these principles, it encroaches upon the domains of legislature and executive. Such use of the original jurisdiction of the Court not only diverts the Court’s time and energy from performing its primary constitutional purpose but also attracts controversy both within the Court and outside.

SCBA President Zuberi, in his speech, suggested action be taken against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under Article 6 over its deviation from the Constitution in delaying elections beyond 90 days.

The Supreme Court has not taken any steps to implement its decision related to the elections, he stressed, adding: “We demand the president announce the elections soon.”

Zuberi said further that fundamental rights were being violated in the guise of the Official Secrets Act and the Army Amendment Act. A civilian’s trial is unconstitutional and illegal, which is not acceptable in any way, he insisted, adding that the nation’s daughters and sisters are imprisoned on “fabricated and baseless” charges. Zuberi requested the court to take notice of this forced imprisonment, adding that the petitions against military courts should be decided immediately.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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WarrenDesiBuffet Sep 12, 2023 07:59am
Good riddance to a very biased, incompetent and petty man who should not have been a clerk let alone CJ of the SC.
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MalikSaabSays Sep 12, 2023 09:11am
A lot of burden is put on the SC, but it is a burden for the nation to shoulder themselves. Pakistan was not made by any army or any supreme court; it was made by people organized on the streets. The people need to organize on the streets to save the spirit of Pakistan i.e. right to determine our own future ourselves, without coercion or diktat by anyone. That was the mission for which Jinnah sacrificed many Jinnah houses. That is the mission that we need to return to today.
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Tariq Qurashi Sep 12, 2023 11:29am
There are only 15 Supreme court judges. It should not be difficult for the new Chief Justice to keep his small team together and on the same page. I wish him the best of luck.
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