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Address by Chief Justice of Pakistan on retirement of Justice Amir Hani Muslim

Islamabad, March 30, 2017 (PPI-OT): Justice Amir Hani Muslim, my brother Judges, Mr. Ashtar Ausaf Ali, Attorney General for Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon, Vice Chairman, Pakistan Bar Council, Mr. Rasheed A. Rizvi, President, Supreme Court Bar Association, members of the Bar, ladies and gentlemen. Assalam-o-Alaikum.

We are assembled here to bid farewell to our respected colleague, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, who is laying down the robes of his office today on attaining the age of superannuation. We are here to recognize my brother’s meritorious service for the rule of law and the administration of justice in the country. The presence of so many eminent personalities from the legal fraternity confirms the high regard in which my brother is held.

Justice Hani’s affiliation with the legal profession spans decades. He was born in Kotri, District Dadu, Sindh on 1st April, 1952. After completing his LLB he joined the legal profession as an advocate in 1981. He remained an active member of the Bar for more than 20 years and strived for the dispensation of justice. During this period, he earned profound respect not only from lawyers but also from the Judges of the superior Courts. He remained the Assistant Advocate General Sindh, Additional Advocate General Sindh and the Deputy Attorney General for Pakistan before he was elevated as a Judge of the High Court of Sindh on 27th August, 2002 and a Judge of this Court on 14th February, 2011.

I have come to know my brother since he joined this Court. I have had the opportunity to observe him closely while sitting together on Benches and outside the Court. He is indeed blessed with a sharp mind. He is strict and at the same time compassionate. Since his elevation to the Bench, he has been singularly determined to promote the cause of social justice and this zeal is reflected in many of his judgments.

As a judge, my brother is known for his impartiality, independence of mind and strict adherence to law. His expertise is not limited to a certain legal field. Instead he has displayed extensive knowledge of all the branches of law. He has the ability to understand complex issues instantaneously and come up with solutions in accordance with law. His devotion to his duty has been remarkable. Throughout his career as a Judge, he never vacillated on principles.

He adorned many Benches hearing important cases and delivered landmark judgments which will remain a source of knowledge for the legal fraternity. His judgments will not only provide guidance to the new entrants of the legal profession in ascertaining the true import of the law but the members of the Bench will also benefit from the wisdom of my brother, who gave new dimensions to the concept of judicial interpretation. His judgments are reflective of his legal acumen, diligence, fairness, neutrality and strong hold on the law. He tackled the issue of out of turn promotions in the police force and the civil service and his leading judgments in this and related matters have done much to reform these services. We can all admire this single minded determination to cause justice to be done though the heavens may fall.

Rule of law is fundamental for the economic, political and social development of a society. Rule of law is not limited to the protection of individuals’ rights and resolution of disputes in accordance with law but also includes an independent and effective judiciary, safeguard against abuse of power and a law abiding government. The goal of an egalitarian society cannot be achieved without establishing the rule of law within government institutions. This can be achieved through the elimination of corruption, nepotism and discrimination within institutions and strict adherence to the Constitution and law.

In order to ensure rule of law in the country the Objectives Resolution, which is a substantive part of the Constitution by virtue of Article 2A, provides that it is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality; and wherein the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured.

Fundamental rights are so sacred that Article 8 of the Constitution provides that any law, or any custom or usage having the force of law, to the extent of inconsistency with the fundamental rights is void and the State is precluded from making any law which takes away or abridges such rights. The Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution has been bestowed with the power to enforce fundamental rights.

In this respect, in Ali Azhar Khan Baloch’s case Justice Hani, while discussing the requirements of Article 184(3) of the Constitution, i.e. a question of public importance and the enforcement of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, has stated that the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction under the said Article to pass appropriate orders in spite of the fact that there may be an alternate remedy; that the discretion of this Court is manifest from the use of the word ‘consider’ in Article 184(3) of the Constitution which is a key enabling this Court to make an assessment regarding the exercise of its jurisdiction; and that once this Court exercises such discretion and decides that there is indeed a question of public importance that pertains to the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights contained in the Constitution, then that decision of this Court is final and no party including the Government can object thereto. This interpretation by my learned brother clarifies the true import of Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

There are instances of discrimination and favouritism within governmental institutions, resulting in the violation of fundamental rights of employees. This is the main reason for the absence of good governance which weakens the state institutions. Being aware of the importance in strengthening the institutions, Justice Hani was the flag bearer in the struggle for the elimination of corruption, nepotism and discrimination. In this regard he delivered a number of judgments. Ghulam Fareed’s case comes to my mind wherein he spoke in favour of upholding the rights of meritorious civil servants and decried the blockage of promotion of deserving officers by appointments on “Own Pay and Scale” basis to a higher grade which is a practice that must be discouraged.

In the case regarding absorption of persons appointed on deputation or through transfer against the cadre posts due to which the civil servants appointed on merit had lost their right to be considered for promotion, Justice Hani discussed the damaging effects of absorption and how it contradicts the framework of the provincial civil structure as envisaged by our Constitution and the law as it creates a parallel system which is unfortunately based on discrimination and favouritism.

Justice Hani has also stated with regard to out of turn promotions, that they are “a vehicle of accelerated progression for a large number of favourite officers using various measures and means”. This inter alia is an unparalleled contribution of my brother to the jurisprudence of the country, and we all are grateful to him in this regard.

In the end, I would like to say that retirement is one of the milestones of life and the important thing is what a person achieved during his tenure. Justice Hani has made valuable contributions to the administration of justice and is leaving behind a good name and pleasant memories. He may not be with us on the Bench anymore but we will be guided by his judgments. I wish him a very happy and prosperous life ahead.

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Supreme Court of Pakistan
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