Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry Should Resign

For six long months, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry of Pakistan knew that his son was on the take from a notorious property baron Malik Riaz Husain, and yet he did nothing to stop his son's illegal activities. Earlier in 2007, President Musharraf's reference filed against Mr. Chaudhry was based on his abuse of power to help his son. Mr. Chaudhry was too busy waging a much-needed jihad against corruption by other powerful individuals through his suo moto actions.

 Mr. Chaudhry finally acted against his son after the allegations became public in Pakistani media. His action appears to be self-serving to try and salvage his own reputation. Malik Riaz Husain, CEO of Bahria Town, has now offered detailed evidence and documentation to back up his charges against Chaudhry's son Arsalan Iftikhar of accepting bribes worth $3.7 million (Pak Rs. 340 million).

Predictably, Mr. Chaudhry's fellow judges are trying to silence the accuser by initiating contempt proceedings against him, a favorite tool of the current serving judges of the highest court in Pakistan to chill dissent. Other Chaudhry supporters are in denial. They are crying "conspiracy" to try and absolve him of a very serious lapse.

Judge Chaudhry's failure to act when he first learned about his son's corruption charges has put a harsh spotlight on Pakistan's Supreme Court as an institution. It has put at risk the noble efforts of Mr. Chaudhry to rid Pakistan of corruption at the highest levels of government. What's most important now is to try and restore confidence in Pakistan's higher judiciary as an institution.

Mr. Chaudhry must resign as a first step toward rebuilding trust in the institution. Other senior judges must then step in to order a thorough investigation into the activities of Mr. Malik Riaz Husain, and they should let the evidence lead them wherever it goes, including many powerful individuals in government, legislatures, military, political parties, lawyers' community and mass media who are alleged to have accepted illegal payments from him in return for lucrative contracts and other favors to Bahria Town.

The culture of corruption must end for Pakistan to offer hope to its people for their future.

Here's the video of a recent TV interview on this subject I participated in:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Pak Judges' Jihad Against Corruption

Chaudhry is No Angel

Justice Chaudhry's Address to New York Bar

Incompetence and Corruption in Pakistan

Zardari Corruption Probe

NRO Amnesty Order Overturned

Transparency International Rankings 2011


AH said...

What's your logic here?
Why should Chaudhry resign? His son accepted bribes, not him. He is innocent.

Riaz Haq said...

AH: "What's your logic here?"

Here's my logic:

Ch Aitazaz Ahsan says he told Justice Chaudhry about his son's misdeeds six moths ago.

Iftikhar Chaudhry has lost all credibility and moral authority by ignoring it until the public disclosures forced his hand.

He has tarnished the institution. He should go if he cares about restoring faith in it.

Shahzad B. said...

I agree... We cannot take the high road and ride the low horse...

Idris S. said...

hahahha.....Ch Aitazaz told him.....what a joke.

Riaz Haq said...

Idris: "hahahha.....Ch Aitazaz told him.....what a joke."

Even if you disregard Aitazaz Ahsan's statement, you still have to ask why his son Arsalan's expensive vacations (along with CJ's wife and other family members) to London and Monte Carlo on a govt doctor's salary did not register with the CJ.

Shafique A. said...

A lot lot more is yet to come out from the scandal planted by so many (with clear vested interests) at the helm of affairs in the country. There is not a bit justification to even think of asking the CJ to quit. He is the only hope in the country on whome the patriot citizens and a common man can depend. Mr Arsalan will meet his destiny if found guilty.

Saleem K. said...

Riaz sahib,
I believe you are pre judging the case before knowing all the facts. CJ should go if and only if he has known
for last six months (as you say) of his son's participation in the corruption scandal, but if the father did not
know the situation than the son and only the son is responsible.
Best Regards.

Riaz Haq said...

Saleem: "I believe you are pre judging the case before knowing all the facts. CJ should go if and only if he has known for last six months (as you say) of his son's participation in the corruption scandal, but if the father did not
know the situation than the son and only the son is responsible."

Even if you disregard Aitazaz Ahsan's statement that he told CJ about it 6 months ago, you still have to wonder why his son Arsalan's expensive vacations (along with CJ's wife and other family members) to London and Monte Carlo on a govt doctor's salary did not register with the CJ. Why did he turn a blind eye to this lifestyle that was clearly beyond his son's known means.

Anonymous said...

Only those resign, who holds the dignity of the position (they hold) above their selfish self.

Some relevant Facts of story:

CJ is a political judge and so are the other handpicked judiciary.

CSS exams are a joke, even failed candidates can be appointed as a police officer and judges, either by paying bribe or using the influence of their dishonorable fathers.

Internationaly, Islamic Republic of Pakistan is classified as most corrupt state ever on earth, while people are forced and even intimidated to call its judiciar, fare!

CJ has swore upon Quran, that he was oblivious of overwhelming prosperity of his son!

I leave it to the Pakistanis to trust, that:

No one brought attention of CJ to the open letter, mentioning corrupt ways of his son and injustice in his practice!
CJ didn't knew the price of BMW, his son use to drive!
CJ didn't discussed about or said goodbye to his son, travelling to UK for holidays!
CJ didn't knew he or his son shouldn't meet the litigants of his court in private!

The real paradox or calamity of the whole episode is that interior ministry had no courage to directly approach the 'holy cow' (or) 'don' may i say!
No doubt, Interior ministry and NAB overlooked the imbalance of earnings and expenses of 'don' and used it as a bargain chip to earn legal protection for the fake degree of Asif Ali Zardari.

When it comes to the media and masses, every one has his preconceived declarations from day one. Suiting their individual political association.
While no one thinks logically and question the source of information.

While, IMO, the biggest hypocrite, popped up in the whole episode is Imran Khan, who brand him self Tsunami of justice.
Yet, failed to point out the partial self of judiciary or demand an impartial judicary on the occasion.

I'm sure dons of Pakistan, have overwhelmed the tycoon Malik Riaz.

Anonymous said...

If the OP's allegations against the CJP are true then very very sad! Not good for Pakistan that even an inspiring figure like the CJP has been compromised even if indirectly.
I have not liked the, what I call, 'selective justice' from this judiciary--targeting mainly PPP, letting go terrorism-suspects too soon, meddling into 'executive' affairs too much, and virtual denial of the supremacy of the parliament.. But I had still thought better of them than financially compromised individuals.

M. Khan said...

Must Iftikhar Chaudhry Go?

It will be a shame returning the highest award for which he went abroad, a few weeks ago.

S Qureshi said...

Dear Riaz Haq,

Situation is very different here in Pakistan. A huge majority of Pakistanis are firmly standing shoulder to shoulder with CJ.
Its really hard to understand the scheme of things from outside Pakistan.

The mood of the people on main street is that, all corrupt ha ve ganged up against CJ now (even the some TV channels and might anchors).

Awaam has to defend our beloved CJ. He has no one else left except ordinary Pakistanis for his support.

Ahsan L. said...


In my opinion you got to be out of your mind tocall for the removal of JUSTICE chaudry.He is one of the most honet person among all the govt officials.As you know his son is a grown person then how Chaudry become responsible for his son's action.For example if you become a theif and strart robbing left and right then does this means that your parents
are responsible for your act and they should be put behind the bar.In my opinion one should think before calling for resignation by Justice Chaudry.He is a decent person andwe all must respect him for keeping judiciary working.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahsan: "In my opinion you got to be out of your mind tocall for the removal of JUSTICE chaudry.He is one of the most honet person among all the govt officials.As you know his son is a grown person then how Chaudry become responsible for his son's action..."

Even if you disregard Aitazaz Ahsan's statement that he told CJ about his son's corruption you still have to wonder why his son Arsalan's expensive vacations (along with CJ's wife and other family members) to London and Monte Carlo on a govt doctor's salary did not register with the CJ. Why did he turn a blind eye to this lifestyle that was clearly beyond his son's known means.

Justice Chaudhry has been waging war against corruption in Pakistan but his suo moto actions have been selective. He has gone after the PPP corruption with a vengeance but ignored his son's corruption for months without action until it became public through the media. Nor has he pursued corrupt PML leadership.

His actions have been perceived as very biased and now there is confirmation.

He should resign because he has lost the moral authority to sit in judgement.

Seeker said...

the judgment from CJ speaks that his loyalty is with terrorist and enemies of Pakistan. more than 350000 pending cases in lower courts but his all efforts are to topple PPP govt.Million of people are looking for judgment for ages in lower courts but this is not matter of CJ. He had open memogate and give judgment too on one article without evidence, but not accepting the solid evidence against his own son.
why don't media demand resign for him on " ikhlaki" basis like they did in pm case.
don't say that he is innocent in this case. this case is directly link with "azad(qanoon say) adalya"

Ahsan L. said...

I do not agree with your opinion.I think you cant find any better cj at the present time when you look into country corruption from top to bottom

Riaz Haq said...

Ahsan: "I think you cant find any better cj at the present time when you look into country corruption from top to bottom"

It's the institution, not the individual, that we should support. No single individual is indispensable.

Ahsan L. said...

Why you could not fix the other instititions that have been destroyed completely ie,no power,water,sewerage,gas,petrol,power,railway,pia and etc..The only institution that is left in tact and functional you are trying to destroy that one too.Please leave the supreme court functioning as they are working now theinand doing a good service for a common person in the country.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahsan: "Why you could not fix the other instititions that have been destroyed completely ie,no power,water,sewerage,gas,petrol,power,railway,pia and etc..The only institution that is left in tact and functional you are trying to destroy that one too."

The best way to protect any institution, including judiciary, is to get rid of tainted individuals. There should be no sacred cows.

Chaudhry is now tainted by failing to act when he first learned about his son's excesses. He must go to save the top judiciary so that it can pursue other wrongdoers with a clear conscience.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on PPP Senator Faisal Raza Abidi's allegations against Justice Chaudhry:

The senator said that if the chief justice does not tender a resignation, then he will “force him out from the same way he had been restored as a judge.”

“He [Justice Chaudhry] says that he did not have any idea where his son got all that money from…I ask, when the case emerged, did you ask him where he got Rs900 million from?”

The senator produced bank account statements of Dr Arsalan and said that the person who used to “work under somebody else” now owns billions of rupees. He also showed that the billing address mentioned was that of the Chief Justice House in Islamabad.

“You [Justice Chaudhry] are to be blamed for this. This happened right in front of you. You cannot pretend to not know anything. Who gave Dr Arsalan the right to use government’s property for running his own businesses? Could he not rent out an office in some other area?”

He said that he would now “personally” investigate about Dr Arsalan’s assets and will also fly to Dubai and London to inquire about his international bank accounts. “I will probe into the accounts he has activated under the name of mamu.”

Abidi said that the Parliament is supreme and is above other institutions.

“Parliament forms laws and constitutions. Who gave you the right to criticise and meddle in its affairs?”

“I accept your challenge in the war you have waged against the parliament. But mine is not a war of arms, but is a war of words, because Pakistan cannot afford agitation at this moment as it is already going through tough times.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on Aitazaz Ahsan criticizing Pakistan Supreme Court judges in an interview with BBC:

Senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader Senator Aitzaz Ahsan has said that, in some matters, the judiciary is stepping out of the domain of the constitution and is getting ‘too independent.’

In an interview with the BBC Urdu on Tuesday, he said that the Supreme Court’s activism is one sided and not equal for all aspects.

“Judiciary is independent, it is too much independent, actually it is getting ‘free’ of the constitution in some matters,” stated Aitizaz.

Pointing towards the supremacy of the Parliament, he said that the parliament can make amendments in the Constitution with a two-third majority, and this cannot be challenged in court.

Commenting on the role of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Ahsan said that the fromer’s gallant role against former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf had served to strengthen the democratic setup in the country, but subsequent actions had prompted people to question the judiciary.

Some judgements passed by the Supreme Court recently eliminated any possibility of the country returning to martial law and, therefore, there is no chance of the military taking over in the future, Ahsan noted.

On former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s disqualification by the SC, the Barrister said that he believed dismissing Gilani was a wrong decision, adding that the case was not a matter of disqualification, rather it was an issue related to the jurisdiction of the judiciary.

He questioned that how could the court ask to open a case against the President in a foreign court while the Constitution clearly granted him immunity?

Ahsan said that the stance taken by the Chief Justice in a speech that the judiciary can stop the Parliament from a Constitutional amendment clashes with the Supreme Court’s own decisions. He added that the apex court can review the amendments made through simple majority for any discrepancy within existing articles of the constitution, however, an amendments passed with a two-third majority cannot be challenged in the court.

Talking about the controversial Arsalan Iftikhar case, he said that the proceedings against the CJ’s son had raised questions about the court’s impartiality. He said that the present the judiciary is diverting from the prevailing principles of investigation into Arsalan’s alleged dealings with Malik Riaz Hussain.

On his movement for the restoration of judges, Ahsan said he had no regrets and that it was a movement for the victory of the people.

PPP to win next elections

Speaking on the upcoming general elections, the Barrister said that the PPP would not only win but also be able to form a government since President Asif Ali Zardari has now the experience of forming a hung parliament.

Riaz Haq said...

The contents of the proceedings in Qadri case have been widely reported and corroborated by multiple sources about the entire line of questioning which had nothing to do with the merits of the claims made in Dr. Qadri's petition. Instead, the Court chose to impugn the motives and loyalty of Dr. Qadri simply based on the fact that he is a dual national.

This court, particularly its chief justice, is an activist court that exercises absolutely zero judicial restraints. It disregards the letter and the spirit of the constitution and the laws of Pakistan to pursue its own agenda. It attempts to squelch all criticism by threatening frivolous contempt charges regularly.

It usurps the power of other institutions of government, particularly the legislature and the executive....something that has drawn strong criticism of Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists for overstepping its authority.

Justice Katju, former Indian Supreme Court Judge, has criticized Pakistan Supreme Court for "showing utter lack of restraint".

Justice Chaudhry has personally been criticized for his judgements in multiple cases by Chaudhary Aitazaz Ahsan who led the movement to restore him.

Chaudhry and his fellow judges deserve to be closely scrutinized and criticized when they make mistakes. In a democracy, everyone should be held accountable for their actions. No one should get a free pass.

Riaz Haq said...

While Chaudhry's court is busy settling scores with its "enemies", the cases backlog is rising to unprecedented levels---20,000 cases in Supreme Court and 1.5 million cases in the country's various courts. Each day, the chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court confronts a stack of blue folders stuffed with desperate pleas from residents claiming that corrupt police, inept prosecutors or moribund lower courts have failed them.

Riaz Haq said... Pakistan has "a judicial system that can be extremely slow at it's best, and downright corrupt at its worst".

Riaz Haq said... From When it was revealed that Mr. Arsalan Iftekhar had been involved in corruption in August 2012, the zealousness of the judiciary, and particularly the Chief Justice, against the Executive and Legislative branches by issuing orders to investigate, prosecute and arrest on the pretext of eradicating corruption did not happen to his son's case. Chief Justice Chaudhry rather allegedly took advantage of his position in the judiciary to prevent any such investigation. Mr. Chaudhry was alleged to have known full well of the corrupt practices of his son. The allegations against Mr. Arsalan should have been duly investigated.

Mr. Arsalan's accuser, Mr. Riaz Malik, a property dealer, claimed Mr. Arsalan had allegedly taken bribes in a form of a luxury flats in London and hotel accommodation in Park Lane. He gambled in Monte Carlo allegedly in exchange for favorable decisions from the court cases that his father was handling. Allegedly he has received cash of over 2 million pounds sterling. Chief Justice Chaudhry was accused of using his influence to prevent the investigation. To his son's defense, Chief Justice Chaudhry argued that the allegations were an attack, not to him or his son, but on the independence of the judiciary.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Dawn report about Lahore bar demanding a reference against 3 senior SC judges including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry:

LAHORE: A general house meeting of the Lahore High Court Bar Association adopted a resolution on Tuesday demanding presidential references against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawad S. Khwaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed for their alleged violation of the constitution in their judgment on the election of the president.

Advocate Rashid Lodhi, an activist of PPP, moved the resolution which criticised the Supreme Court judgment directing the Election Commission to advance the date of presidential election by a week and hold it on July 30.

Bar president Abid Saqi presented the resolution which was adopted with majority.

Mr Saqi said the bar had always raised voice against both military and judicial dictators and for supremacy of the constitution.

The house held that the presidential election conducted on the order of the Supreme Court had no sanctity of law or the constitution and the bar would not accept what it called a ‘dubious exercise’.

It demanded that the chief election commissioner and all his provincial counterparts should immediately resign over their failure to hold the election on schedule given by the ECP.

The house decided that the association would file references against the CJP and the other judges before the Supreme Judicial Council if the president failed to do so.

Pakistan Bar Council vice-chairman Syed Kalbe Husain, Supreme Court Bar Association’s former president Asma Jahangir, LHCBA’s former president Ahmad Awais, Mian Jamil Akhtar and Rashid Lodhi spoke on the occasion and criticised the court’s verdict.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Open Letter to Chief Justice Chaudhry from attorney Naeem Bukhari published in The News:

...I am mildly amused at your desire to be presented a guard of honour in Peshawar. I am titillated by the appropriation of Mercedes Benz car or is it cars, the use of the Government of the Punjab’s plane to offer Fateha in Multan, to Sheikhupura for Fateha on a Government of the Punjab helicopter, to Hyderabad on a Government of the Sind’s plane for attending a High Court function, the huge amount spent in refurbishing the chamber and residence of the Chief Justice, the reservation for yourself of a wing in Supreme Court Judges guest house in Lahore, the permanent occupation by the Supreme Court of the official residence of the Chief Justice of Sind, who per force lives in the basement of his father’s house. As his class fellow in the Government College, Lahore, I can vouch that living in the basement will do him no harm.

I am not perturbed that Dr. Arsalaan (your son) secured 16/100 in the English paper for the Civil Services Examination, that there is some case against him in some court in Baluchistan, that from the Health Department in Baluchistan he has shifted to FIA, that he has obtained training in the Police Academy, that he reportedly drives a BMW 7-Series car, that there is a complaint against him with the National Accountability Bureau.

My grievances and protests are different.

I am perturbed that the Supreme Court should issue a clarificatory statement on his behalf. I am perturbed that Justice (Retd.) Wajihuddin Ahmed should be constrained to advise you on television that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others”. I am perturbed that the Chief Justice should summon Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman to his chambers on Dr. Arsalaan’s account.

I am appalled that you announce decisions in Court, while in the written judgment an opposite conclusion is recorded.

In the Petition for leave to appeal filed by Dr Sher Afghan Niazi, Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs (in which Respondent’s Counsel were Mr Khalid Anwar and Mr Qadir Saeed), you refused to grant leave in open Court and yet in the written order, leave was granted to Dr Sher Afghan Niazi.

On 15.2.2007, Mr Fakurddin G. Ebrahim complained that, in open Court you had accepted his appeal but dismissed the same in the judgement, subsequently recorded.

If Mr Khalid Anwar, a former Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs and Mr Fakrhuddin, Senior Counsel are treated in this manner, the fate of lesser known lawyers would certainly be far worse.

My grievances also concern the manner in which the last and highest court of appeal is dispensing justice, under your leadership.

My Lord, the dignity of lawyers is consistently being violated by you. We are treated harshly, rudely, brusquely and nastily. We are not heard. We are not allowed to present our case. There is little scope for advocacy. The words used in the Bar Room for Court No. 1 are “the slaughter house”. We are cowed down by aggression from the Bench, led by you. All we receive from you is arrogance, aggression and belligerence. You also throw away the file, while contemptuously announcing “This is dismissed”.

Yet this aggression is not for everyone. When Mr. Sharifuddin Pirzada appears, your Lordship’s demeanour and appearance is not just sugar and honey. You are obsequious to the point of meekness. So apart from violating our dignity, which the constitution commands to be inviolable, we suffer discrimination in your court.

I am not raising the issue of verbal onslaughts and threats to Police Officers and other Civil Servants, who have the misfortune to be summoned, degraded and reminded that “This is the Supreme Court”......

Riaz Haq said...

In a candid conversation in San Francisco Bay Area, Pakistani rights activist Asma Jahangir acknowledged it was a mistake to support restoration of CJ Iftikhar overdue acknowledgement six years after Musharraf sacked him. But she still remains staunchly opposed to Musharraf. She is still unwilling to concede what Musharraf did was correct when he removed the corrupt self-serving judge, arguing that dictators hire corrupt judges to serve their interest and fire them once judges stop serving their interest. The problem with Pakistani liberals is that they are elitists who care more about their own rights than the rights of the poor people to get out of poverty and get educated as tens of millions did on Musharraf's watch. It's really Maslow's hierarchy of needs in action: The aspirations of the elite (lawyers, judges, media,feudal lords, tribal chiefs, etc) drive their "rights" agenda at the top of the pyramid while the poor find themselves stuck at the bottom under "democratic" rule, unable to get even their basic physiological needs properly fulfilled.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters story about Pakistan's retiring chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry:

"Pakistan's flamboyant chief justice has strengthened human rights but his inconsistent choice of cases has left the Supreme Court vulnerable to accusations of partisan intervention, a global group of 60 eminent judges and lawyers said on Thursday.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry - due to step down on December 12 - spearheaded a legal movement that forced out a dictator and established the independence of the judiciary for the first time in Pakistan's history.

But without further reforms, Pakistan's justice system will continue to destabilise the nuclear-armed nation, the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists warned in a report.

"The Court has often garnered public acclaim for demanding government accountability," the body said. But many felt "concerns that the Court has sometimes exercised its original jurisdiction in a political and partisan manner."

Vigilante justice and deadly feuds are still common in Pakistan and few trust the courts to protect them. Police frequently execute suspects because they fear the courts will free them. Bungled cases are often blamed as the reason why dangerous militants go free.

Chaudhry helped restore some hope in the courts, the report said, by intervening in individual cases, such as one where police did not intervene in a lynching and another where paramilitary forces were filmed executing a civilian.

"Officials who were responsible for the killing and who would have otherwise escaped accountability were investigated and brought to justice," the Commission said.

Such interventions have led to an explosion in the number of human rights cases submitted to the court. In 2011, it received more than 150,000 petitions, compared to just 450 in 2004.

Sometimes important cases were ignored and some seemingly frivolous ones taken up, the Commission said.

"In some cases, the Supreme Court has acted swiftly ... facilitating victims' right to remedy and reparation. In other instances, however, the Court has not responded to urgent human rights issues," it said.

Chaudhry protected the rights of transsexuals but ignored attacks on religious minorities, the report said.

He intervened in government decisions but was unable to punish a single member of the powerful security agencies for the disappearance, torture or killing of thousands of Pakistanis."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Jurist Op Ed by Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch:

So, why is it such a relief to see Chaudhry go?

Pakistan's tenaciously independent chief justice also turned out to be political, arbitrary and irresponsible. Upon returning to office, he presided over the firing of judges without giving them the same due process he had demanded of Musharraf. He refused to accept parliamentary oversight of judicial appointments, threatening to overturn a unanimously passed constitutional amendment to that effect unless it was revised. Parliament complied to avoid a confrontation.

Chaudhry also made unprecedented use of suo motu proceedings—the court acting on its own motions—to engage in unwarranted intrusion into the legitimate domain of the legislature and the executive. Suo motu proceedings in defense of fundamental rights are good, but in case after case Chaudhry acted as if the Supreme Court was not a co-equal branch of government but a de facto legislature and executive branch.

Further, Chaudhry used his discretionary powers to oversee, hire and fire government officials, intervening in governance areas ranging from economic policy to traffic management. He seemed to relish triggering constitutional confrontations with parliament and government, undermining the elected parliament and disrupting governance just when Pakistan was undergoing a difficult transition to civilian rule.

In just one example, in December 2011, Chaudhry embroiled the Supreme Court in the "Memogate" scandal by agreeing to investigate Pakistan's former ambassador to the US on charges that he attempted to conspire with the US against Pakistan's military. Such an investigation was the responsibility of the government, not the Supreme Court. However, showing his biases, Chaudhry did not investigate allegations from the same source that the head of Pakistan's security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence, had conspired to oust the elected government.

In June 2012, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chaudhry took the unprecedented step of firing Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani for "scandalizing the judiciary." Gilani had refused to sign a letter to the Swiss government asking for an investigation into corruption allegations against then-president Asif Zardari, even though the Swiss government said that it would not act on such a letter. Chaudhry's order appeared to be an attempt to settle a personal score—many independent observers called the move a "judicial coup." After all the controversy about the way Musharraf had sidelined the judiciary, the government decided to avoid a constitutional crisis and nominated a new prime minister.

When a corruption scandal involving Chaudhry's son emerged around the same time, Chaudhry first used his suo motu powers to seize judicial control of the investigation and then effectively prevented the investigation from proceeding.

Chaudhry treated attempts at oversight or accountability of the judiciary, however reasonable or justified, as a personal attack. He muzzled media criticism by the use or threatened use of overbroad "contempt laws."

While Chaudhry lashed out at his critics, access to justice in Pakistan remained abysmal and the courts remained rife with corruption and incompetence. Case backlogs stayed huge at all levels of the court system.

Chaudhry's supporters make much of his credentials as a champion of human rights causes. He deserves credit for standing up to a military dictator. He took a strong stand on government abuses in Balochistan and demanded the return of terrorism suspects forcibly disappeared by the military. However, after his much-publicized hearings into arbitrary arrests or disappearances, no military or intelligence officer was held accountable, even though he "loudly opined" in court that the military had been responsible..

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on the adverse economic impact of activist judges in Pakistan:

Former State Bank of Pakistan governor Dr Ishrat Hussain claims that the country’s economy has suffered as a result of interventions by the Supreme Court in recent years.
While addressing the International Judicial Conference’s working group on Saturday, he said the country’s risk profile has been elevated as the investors fear of being embroiled in endless litigation.
“Even if the investors overcome procedural hurdles, they are now faced with an additional concern of being dragged into the court over legal lacunas, which adds to uncertainty and unpredictability of investing in Pakistan,” the former central bank chief said.
Dr Hussain said that despite fulfilling the requirements, the fear that the country’s courts may take suo motu notice of the transaction, and subsequently issue a stay order, deters businesses from investing in Pakistan.
“A large number of frivolous petitions are filed every year that have dire economic consequences. While the cost of such filings is insignificant the economy suffers enormously,” he added.
Highlighting SC’s judgments in cases such as, Reko Diq, LNG project and privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), the former SBP chief said the decisions have had a negative impact on the country’s economic development.

About the LNG case, Dr Hussain said the government received several bids but they could not proceed further due to the court’s intervention, adding that there is a need for expeditious disposal of suo motu cases related to economic issues.
Similarly, commenting on SC’s judgment in the PSM case, he said the country has not carried out a single transaction of privatisation since the decision.
The former central bank chief said the court judgments have instilled fear among the civil servants and political leaders for putting out any public assets for sale to avoid judicial intervention.
Lastly, taking a swipe at the judicial activism, Dr Hussain said the court’s interference in the appointments, promotions and terminations was hampering the operations of civil services.
Treading a cautious line, the former state bank governor said, “Let me submit with all the humility and without sounding arrogant or offending anyone’s sensibilities, that economic decision are highly complex and its repercussions are interlinked both in time as well as space.”
He recommended that laws related to Land Revenue Act needed to be updated, in accordance with modern demands of agro business, industry, commerce, infrastructure, etc.
The former SBP chief also stated that the disposal by the banking courts was 23,694 against a total of 68,973 outstanding cases which was lower than the disposal rate by all special courts and Administrative Tribunals.

Riaz Haq said...

QUETTA: The provincial government has appointed Arsalan Iftikhar, son of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, as vice-chairman of the Balochistan Investment Board.

The Chief Minister’s Finance Adviser Mir Khalid Khan Langove had announced in his budget speech the provincial government’s plan to set up the board headed by Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch.

“Yes, Arsalan Iftikhar has been appointed vice-chairman of the Balochistan Investment Board,” Finance Secretary Mushtaq Ahmed Raisani confirmed to Dawn on Wednesday.

He said it would be an “honorary post without salary and allowances” and the vice chairman would preside over the meetings of the investment board in the absence of the chairman (chief minister).

The board will have 12 members. “The names of other members are likely to be announced soon,” the secretary said.

Rashid A. said...

Babar Sattar writes in his latest column: Daylight Robbery:

"So what should citizens do when the state turns predatory and confiscates their property of give to others? Justice Minallah highlights the conflict of interest that festers this arrangement:

babus who thought up the scheme and run it are beneficiaries;
judges who are to check abuse of state authority are beneficiaries;
journalists who are to act as whistle-blowers are beneficiaries; and
lawyers who are to fight for rule of law are also beneficiaries."


Then people wonder why there is extremism and no respect for the law in the country.

Read the entire piece.

Riaz Haq said...

Nawaz Sharif rarely spoke about the accountability of judges and military, before he was dismissed. By Raees Ansari

Democracy isn’t just about contesting elections, winning votes and forming governments. And a democratic system does not slip into peril every time there is talk of accountability. In fact, transparency is a key element of good governance. To consolidate democratic principles in a state, corruption must be reduced, for which all men and women, no matter how powerful, must be ready to answer questions, no matter how difficult.

Here is one, being repeatedly asked by opposition parties and media’s talking heads: Should a minister of finance stay in office while he is being investigated for corruption? Would democracy collapse or fail if he resigned?

In a press conference, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, the Director General of the ISPR, stated very clearly, and rightfully, that the only danger to democracy is from not fulfilling its prerequisites. Because the Major General is a uniformed officer, he could not elucidate on the fundamentals and demands of democracy.

So let me take a stab at it. Every single penny collected from taxation must be used for the people’s benefit, not for lavishing on the chief minister or prime minister’s house. It is an elected government’s responsibility to ensure that its citizens have food security and other basic rights. It is not democratic for thousands of rupees to be spent on the security of a few while the rest get looted in their homes and on the streets. It isn’t democracy where a select few drink mineral water and the rest are forced to use dirty water taps.

The highest court in the country disqualifies a sitting prime minister on charges of corruption, and soon after 2,000 security personnel are assigned for his safety. Every time his daughter, who holds no position in the government or in the party, appears in a courtroom, she is assigned a security protocol on state expenses.

Riaz Haq said...

Irfan Husain

Somewhere in the mid-1990s, I saw a letter from then chief justice Nasim Hasan Shah to the chief minister of Sindh in which he claimed that as he had to visit Karachi regularly on official work, he would like a plot to build a house. A plot was duly granted and quickly sold.

I wrote a column here on the scam under my old pseudonym of Mazdak, and then went off on a holiday to Skardu. These were pre-internet days, and I had no idea about the firestorm my article ignited in my absence. Shah issued a contempt notice to the editor, the redoubtable Ahmad Ali Khan.

His instruction to the Dawn lawyer was not to reveal my identity as I was then a civil servant. My late friend Ardeshir Cowasjee turned up with a legal team as well. On the appointed day, I was later told that the courtroom was full of journalists and human rights activists. Apparently, when he arrived, the judge was taken aback to see such a large crowd, and invited Khan Sahib, as he was universally known, to his chamber for a private conversation.

There, he said that he admired Dawn, but was disappointed with my column. Khan Sahib replied that if my column had been inaccurate, he would publish a clarification. His reported response was a classic: “Your columnist claimed that I had ‘flogged the plot overnight’. Actually, I sold it a month after it was allotted to me.”

Twenty years on, the Supreme Court is vastly more independent. However, it is seen by some to be using its powers without exercising much restraint. It is worth considering whether making politicians and bureaucrats jump through the hoops at the drop of a hat and frequent interventions contribute to the destabilisation of the political system. Earlier, it was the defence establishment that was assigned this task, but now controversial judgements are seen to be weakening elected leaders.

There is no denying that our politicians have given judges plenty of ammunition, but physically eliminating one prime minister, sentencing another for contempt, and disqualifying a third one for not declaring a small salary he never drew appears to be a record of sorts. And, as has been pointed out, uninformed judgements in past years may well have caused incalculable harm to the economy.

From Reko Diq to the privatisation of the Steel Mills, a lack of knowledge of international law has been on display. Pakistan has already lost the arbitration case over the cancelled mining contract for Reko Diq. In the Steel Mills case, the highest offer was rejected by the Supreme Court because, as the short order reportedly said, the deal had been conducted in “indecent haste”. Over a decade and billions of rupees in losses later, the biggest state enterprise remains barely functional for lack of funds, and is acquiring further liabilities. Take a bow, Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Meanwhile, in a recent reply to a question in the Senate reported in this newspaper, we were informed that a retired judge or his widow are entitled to the following benefits: a monthly pension of Rs800,000; one driver; one ardali; 3,000 free local calls; 2,000 units of free electricity; and 2,500 cubic metres of free gas amounting to Rs50,000.

And we all remember the unseemly tug of war over Iftikhar Chaudhry’s official bullet-proof Mercedes when the retired chief justice refused to return it to the government. Clearly, he had his priorities right.