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Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s address to district bar Sheikhupura

Islamabad, November 03, 2012 (PPI-OT):

Hon’ble Chief Justice, Lahore High Court, Lahore,
Learned District and Tehsil Judges, Sheikhupura,
President District Bar Association, Sheikhupura,
Members of District Bar, Sheikhupura,
Esteemed colleagues from the Bench, Members of the Bar,

Ladies and Gentlemen!

At the outset I must say that I am here to address you all due to an invitation extended to me by the President, District Bar Association Rana Saifullah Khan who along with fifteen members delegation called upon me of September, 2012 and invited me to address you.

Indeed it is a pleasure for me, while addressing the distinguished members of the bar in this historical city, who have always remained on fore front, shoulder to shoulder, with the civil society along with their brethrens of the legal fraternity in the Lawyers’ Movement in which all of them stood firm and struggled hard to bring rule of law in the society through peaceful efforts.

This movement for rule of law, supremacy of Constitution and independence of judiciary instilled a new spirit and provided a common platform to lawyers to cooperate with one another for larger good of the society, because it was the struggle for the principles.

There is no denying the fact that the respect enjoyed by the higher judiciary today is well deserved and well earned by the combined struggle of the lawyers, members of the civil society, activists of political parties, the print and electronic media. Certainly, it should be our endeavour to protect that honour and respect. Of course, the judiciary too has to ensure speedy justice and across-the-board accountability to maintain and sustain its present position.

In pursuit of our above said commitments, the judicial institution of the state, with Supreme Court as the final arbiter, acts as the ultimate protector of the rights of citizens and serves as upholder of the constitutional supremacy. The Supreme Court has always worked with in the constitutional limits, which reminds me here the famous saying of the USA’s Chief Justice, Mr.Justice John G. Roberts, , who said and I quote:

“Umpires don’t make the rules. They apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire”.

The history of our country shows that in the past, rulers have made attempts to curtail the Supreme Court’s constitutional position. But by the grace of God, the apex court while fulfilling its constitutional obligations declared all such acts as illegal, which is applauded by the legal fraternity by terming it as in according to the norms of the Constitution.

This was endorsed by the District Bar Association (DBA) Sheikhupura in the recent past, when it reaffirmed its stand with judiciary at any cost, while reposing its trust and confidence in the apex Court of Pakistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The judiciary is a pivotal pillar of the State. It has to be strong enough to shoulder the structure of the State not only from its own perspective, but it has to provide strength to the other pillars as well. The question is from where will it get the requisite strength – from outside or from within? To me, the inner strength of the judiciary will enable it to play its role in the governance of the country.

The inner strength, in turn, lies in the strength of character and professionalism of the persons manning the judiciary. In saying so, I do not differentiate between the members of the bench and the bar. It is to this end that all our efforts and all our resources must be directed to.

The district judiciary is the backbone of the judicial system of Pakistan. If the District Judiciary delivers to the satisfaction of the people it inspires confidence and earns respect of the people. About ninety percent of the litigants, at first stage, come in contact with District Judiciary. Therefore, the impression and confidence of public regarding the judicial system, is directly dependent upon their experience at this level.

The delay in dispensation of justice not only causes agony to the litigants but also badly affects the fabric of socio-economic activities. This has been the main issue before the successive law reform commissions and committees set up from time to time.

The delay discourages the people to approach the Courts for the redressal of their grievances. In this situation, the Bar raises the voice of the people’s conscious and operate as guardian of their freedoms. It was the lawyers’ community of the country who vigorously carried out the struggle for the rule of law and awakened the nation to taken a stand on constitutional dispensation.

The lawyers’ community has earned a great respect for the legal profession. They are the role model for the community and have exhibited exemplary conduct for securing independence of judiciary they stood with Bench to restore the rule of law and constitutionalism in the country. Without their untiring efforts the present scenario could not have seen the light of the day.

The Bar and Bench are the two integral parts of the judicial administration of the country. If one part is not performing its duties at its optimum level, the other part also slows down. I feel that after the announcement of National Judicial Policy, the judges have stretched themselves to challenge the menace of backlog and pendency of cases.

Now, there is need on the part of Bar to rise to the occasion and exhibit extreme professionalism in the conduct of their duties. I must say here that corruption and corrupt practices in the judicial hierarchy at the district level is eating away at the very vitals of our institution. It not only weaken our capacity to dispense justice in the fair manner but it is also earning a bad name for all of us.

The NJPMC has directed that zero tolerance policy against corruption is to be adopted by all the High Courts. I am glad to note that all High Courts have put in place systems where corrupt elements both in the ranks of presiding officers and staff are being sorted out in a fair manner. I will not tolerate any smallest instance of corruption at any level of our judicial hierarchy.

I request all of you sitting in this hall that whenever you come to know of any corruption or corrupt practice in any court in your district and even at the higher level please let me know through my Registrar or through the Registrar of the High Court.

I assure you that we will take strict action against delinquents. Similarly I expect all of you to show ethical conduct in your duties as well to your clients. Try to discourage frivolous litigation and be very objective and fair in your conduct. I am sure both the Bench and the Bar respect each other and by avoiding corruption and corrupt practice from their work, they can achieve highest respect in the society and credibility both as individuals and for the institution.

I feel tremendously fortunate to be working in such an important system and with so many dedicated, talented, and principled individuals. Our goal remains to provide a judicial system that serves the needs of all Pakistanis; keep our independence, yet open to change; engages regularly in self-examination; and finally — and most fundamentally — never wavers from its commitment to securing justice for all. I look forward to continuing our efforts with you to keep Pakistan’s judicial system strong and geared to provide services to citizens at the minimum cost and hassle.

I am aware that hundreds of lawyers are practicing in this country. I know many of them do not have sufficient work. Some of the young members of the Bar still face several difficulties. I can only wish them all success in their career. My only advice is – what is required for the young lawyers at the Bar is a clear head, a good memory, strong commonsense and aptitude of analysis and arguments. If you possess these qualities, difficulties in your profession would vanish, like the morning mist before the Sun. Everything takes time and so we must be patient. Thank you again for inviting me to address you. I wish you well.

For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001
Email: pro_scp@yahoo.com

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