Pakistan’s longest serving chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry retires

    By IANS,

    Islamabad : Pakistan’s longest serving Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry retired Wednesday.

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    Judges of the apex court gathered at a special ‘Full Court Reference’ in Islamabad Wednesday and lauded the services rendered by Chaudhry as chief justice of Pakistan for the dispensation of justice, rule of law and supremacy of constitution in society, Xinhua reported.

    Speaking on the occasion, the former chief justice said restoration of judiciary and the role of lawyers and civil society has strengthened the judiciary.

    Chaudhry had delivered verdicts in many important cases and had disqualified a sitting prime minister and challenged the country’s powerful security agencies and the civilian leadership in some cases.

    Former president Pervez Musharraf had sacked Chaudhry in 2007 for allegedly “misusing his office”.

    However, the decision was considered an attempt to remove a man who never bowed down to any pressure and set precedents of giving verdicts without yielding to any political pressure.

    The former government of Pakistan Peoples Party had restored Chaudhry after then opposition leader Nawaz Sharif started a long march to Islamabad to press for Chaudhry’s restoration.

    Serving and retired judges, lawyers, members of the civil society and political leaders lauded the role of Chaudhry in laying the foundation of an independent judiciary in the country.

    Chaudhry served for eight years as the chief justice, the longest in the country’s history.

    Newly appointed Chief Justice Tassaduq Jillani paid rich tributes to his predecessor and said the decisions taken by the Supreme Court during the tenure of Iftikhar Chaudhry would always be remembered.

    Attorney General Muneer A. Malik said that the period of Iftikhar Chaudhry as chief justice was a historic one, adding that the chief justice worked for maintaining the prestige of the judiciary and the rule of law.

    Chaudhry is also liked by the people as he had issued suo moto notices on issues related to people’s problems and suspended government decisions like increase in prices of essential items and also ruled against the police and other law enforcement agencies.

    Chaudhry had summoned at least two sitting prime ministers and disqualified Yusuf Raza Gilani as prime minister in June last year after he had refused to open graft cases against then President Asif Ali Zardari.

    One of Gilani’s ministers, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, was sent behind bars in a corruption case. Two other ministers, Rehman Malik and Babar Awan, were served contempt notices for defying directives and ridiculing the court rulings.

    On several occasions, Chaudhry had summoned senior government officials and representatives of the security agencies, which had been rare in the past.