Nov 3, 2007 turning point for Pakistan’s judiciary: Chief Justice


Hyderabad : Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry Sunday described Nov 3, 2007 as the turning point for the country’s judiciary, when the Supreme Court asserted its power and declared as unconstitutional the imposition of an emergency.

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Delivering the keynote address at the 17th Commonwealth Law Conference here, he said for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the judiciary asserted itself and the Supreme Court declared those measures as unconstitutional and illegal in its landmark order on the same day.

Reacting promptly to the emergency declaration by then president Pervez Musharraf, Chaudhry had convened a seven-member bench which issued an interim order against the emergency. The judgement effective brought an end to Musharraf’s military rule and restored democracy Chaudhry maintained.

“The military dictator, on the strength of his power, continued ruling the country despite resistance from the judiciary, students, media and other segments of society,” Chaudhry said, without naming Musharraf.

“The democratic government (that came to power in 2008) did not validate or condone the acts and actions taken by the military ruler. At the same time, such acts or actions were not undone or nullified,” he said.

Chaudhry said the judiciary in Pakistan always upheld its independence despite attempts to undermine its autonomy.

“The judiciary of Pakistan has passed through different phases where efforts by adopting unconstitutional measures have been made, but the judiciary ensured its independence in all these circumstances because the judiciary is of the opinion that when there is constitutionalism and rule of law, it guarantees a democratic system instead of military rule,” he said.

“This image of the judiciary is necessary because the judiciary not only decides cases and settles dispute, but also enforces the fundamental rights and freedom guaranteed to citizens,” he added.

Chaudhry pointed out that the judiciary in Pakistan took suo motu notice of ordinary cases and high-profile cases of violation of human rights a number of times to establish equality before law and the fundamental rights of individuals.

He said whenever a country is ruled by the chosen representatives under the constitution, the system of good governance is strengthened.

“Rule of law and equality before law are the hallmark of Islamic thought and philosophy, which derives its authority from the holy Quran and traditions of the Prophet,” he added.