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The Suspension of Chief Justice of Pakistan
 
Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chudhry was, “Suspended” on 9th of March, 2007 on the charges of abusing his powers. The fascinating and attention grabbing fact in this regard is that the allegations have been put forward by a ruler who is globally known for his notorious practice of abusing power and exploiting his authority.

Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chudhry was sworn in the office of Chief Justice of Pakistan in June, 2005. Justice Chudhry gained the national reputation because of those cases in which he passed the verdict against the spirit of government of Pakistan. These rulings became undesirable to the rulers and resulted in his suspension.

Freezing the privatization of Pakistan’s steel mills was not the only intolerable decision for the rulers. In fact the hurling denunciation he did to the government during the hearings of illegal and forceful abductions was also an unpopular step in the courtyard of dictatorship. It is also noticeable that a day before his suspension he attended the hearing of the case of forceful abductions. During this hearing Asma Jahangir and Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim demanded from the platform of Human Right Commission to assign a commission for the release of detainees, to which, witnesses can be represented and suitable investigation can take place to uncover that how those people were kidnapped and where they were kept. In this hearing Justice Chudhry issued a notice to Attorney General. The fact is that the steps taken by the Chief Justice in solving the case of these mysterious abductions were creating unacceptable circumstances for the rulers. Thus justice Chudhry emerged as a hurdle in the path of rulers’ wicked objectives. General Musharraf has put up the show of his power by sacking the chief justice and trying to deliver a message that he is an authoritative ruler and whosoever attempts to become a hurdle in path of his malevolence goals, will not be tolerated. General Musharraf called the Justice for the explanation of the charges against him at Army House instead of the Presidency and kept him there for five hours to show his martial supremacy. This act on the part of General Musharraf is a proclamation that he is a military dictator and he can do anything he wants on the base of his power. Suspension of Justice Chudhry has exposed the tyranny that was behind the smoke screens of Pseudo-Democracy and so called Enlighten Moderation. Moreover, General Musharraf has proved that he is only a military dictator, ruling at gun point.

According to Hussein Haqani, “The reason for the suspension of Chief Justice is not his weaknesses; in fact it was the actions he took in cases which were unwanted for the rulers. He passed such judgments that became the source of mortification for the military dictator. Naeem Bukhari’s controversial open letter to the Chief Justice gained lofty identification in this issue. Bukhari targeted the character of Chief Justice in this letter. The objections raised against the Chief Justice in this letter are ludicrous. For instance the objection rose against his protocol. In the country like Pakistan where the protocol of high officials and ministers is not considered something out of normal; upon the arrival of Prime Minister, President and Chief Ministers the traffic is ordered to be jammed; even an ambulance is not permitted to pass; life of all the citizens of that city is ordered to stand at still for the sake of the locomotion of VIPs. There the objection on the protocol of three cars and the order of judicial hearing on such protocol by a President with thirty protocol cars, if does not seem comical then what else does it seem? Second big objection against Justice Chudhry is the abuse of his power for the appointment of his son in the department of police; again the reference against this objection is filed by the President against whom the evidence is published in South Asia Tribune for rewarding the contracts of billions of rupees to his son and son’s father in law.

The ratio of authenticity in the charges against Chief Justice is still unknown, however, according to BBC not a single charge against him is considered out of normal practice in Pakistan. Many such charges have been raised against various judges and high officials but no action has ever been taken. Justice Chudhry is the first judge who became the target of such inquiry and this reflects that the goals of this action taken by the President are unusually unique.

The Chief justice was suspended by using similar charges filed in a reference against him. Surprisingly, General Musharraf has observed the (ab)use of authority by the Chief Justice for the appointment of his son but he is incapable to take notice of his companions of PML-Q, about whom, it is mentioned in the survey of Immensity International that they are the most corrupt ruling partners, to come in the government, in the entire history of Pakistan. General Musharraf has taken the support of such feeble charges to suspend the Chief Justice that are not acceptable to anyone. The objection about the abuse of power is raised by a person whose very appearance in the government is an exploitation of power. This action of General Musharraf has faced intense confrontation on the public forum, even the columnist of daily express whose only reason of popularity is to pay tribute to General has also declared this action a “blunder” by General Musharraf.

Asma Jahangir, while giving review, in her exclusive conversation with Laborers Struggle Movement said that this reference was not filed on the base of a letter by some advocate. Many such letters were written and roamed around back and forth. The reality was that His Excellency King had started to feel unsafe. He was even afraid of an aunt and justice Chudhry was a Chief Justice.
One of the objections in the letter written by Naeem Bukhari was that Chief Justice had harsh attitude towards the advocates of Supreme Court. The protest is being carried out by the advocates of Supreme Court in the whole country against the suspension of justice Chudhry and this act of General Musharraf is being declared unconstitutional. The show of this solidarity with Chief Justice of Pakistan has exposed the fallacy of Naeem Bukhari’s objection. Responding to this act of General Musharraf Punjab Bar Council has suspended the membership of advocate Naeem Bukhari and banned his entry in the bar offices of the whole province.

According to the press release of bar, advocate Naeem Bukhari has become a handy tool of dictatorship thus violating his professional responsibilities. The bar council announced, boycott of the courts on 12th and 13th March, protest processions in the whole country and hailing of black flags in the offices of bar. Moreover, the day of 9th March will be mourned every year as the black day by the bar.

One reason for the fame of Justice Chudhry was his Suo-Motto actions (on its own motion) in different cases that revived the confidence of public on judiciary. He came forward on public forum, as a well-wisher of common man by using his power of Suo-Motto action for the security of basic rights. (Naeem Bukhari has an objection on these actions as well. In Bukhari’s opinion such inquiries are inferior to the standards of Supreme Court and Supreme Court should not get itself involved in “less important” issues like basic rights). Justice Chudhry set a record of finalizing cases in a short period of time. The decision he passed in the favor of kiln workers and forced labor became the cause of judiciary’s improved reputation in the heart of public.

According to BBC he had many critics. However, his critics, admirers and everyone else agree that he ran the Supreme Court with accelerated efficiency; he formed maximum number of benches, worked day and night to reduce the burden of the Supreme Court by finalizing maximum number of cases in the shortest possible time frame. It is because of these steps of him that the honor of judiciary was restored. The act of General Musharraf and filing of a judicial reference to defame Chief Justice is nothing else than a conspiracy to jeopardize the respect of judiciary in the hearts of public.

Justice Chudhry also finalized the cases of illegal occupation of armed forces on private real estate, in which he did not only pass a verdict against the martial institutions but also scolded the army officers. Other than low ranking officers he also rebuked the high officials of armed forces for their reckless behavior towards the duty and gave an ultimatum to Punjab Police to control the soaring graph of street crime. Justice Chudhry took an independent action on many occasions about the injustices done to people and provided a relief to possible extent. Another important case of him is regarding the ban on commemoration of Basant carnival. The Government of Punjab overlooked the ban of the Supreme Court and allowed the celebration of Basant, which resulted in more than ten casualties only in Lahore. Justice Chudhry held Punjab Government responsible for the casualties on Basant; perhaps these remarks of justice also became the source of discomfort for the President who is an enthusiastic fan of basant partying.

Justice Chudhry’s popularity was increasing with every passing day because of his public friendly rulings and oppressed public, look towards him as a hope against the dictatorial tyranny. These specific steps of justice turned him disobedient in the opinion of government. His decisions became the source of embarrassment for rulers; in particular his exceptional interest in the case of mysterious abductions was the source of fears for the rulers. During the case of abductions he scolded the government agencies, engaged in such brutal practice and took a notice of torture of the police over the procession of the families of detainees. These actions for the security of basic human rights were unacceptable for the government at any cost. The reasons behind the suspension of Chief Justice are very profound. The charges against him do not carry any sense in a country like Pakistan where roots of VIP culture are deep and every official takes the disadvantage of his authority. This act of General Musharraf expresses his dictatorial approach and delivers a message that he will not tolerate any voice against his opinion and he can descend to any shallow point to sustain his power. This act of General Musharraf carries a special meaning at the time when elections are just around the corner. General Musharraf who wants to get him elected from the same parliament will not endure any hurdle in the passage of this unconstitutional and unlawful goal. It can be said after reviewing the record of Justice Chudhry that he could have given a decision against this will of General Musharraf. Secondly, by sacking Justice Chudhry, General Musharraf has been trying to deliver this message to the Chief Election Commissioner and Judiciary that he will execute any action to have his champions won the election and no one, better not dare to act against his will. It has been exposed by this act of General Musharraf that the expectation for independent and prudent election cannot be kept intact in his presence. Moreover, he is incapable to stand any opposition.

According to one comment of BBC, “Nevertheless, what was the fault committed by Justice Chudhry that General Musharraf had to take an action which was not liked to be carried out by totalitarian rulers before him. During the year of 2007, General Musharraf has to prolong his rule by using his rooks and pawns and perhaps he will not bear anyone, about whom he has the slightest element of doubt for executing an independent decision.”
It is also worth to notice here that this is not the first invasion of General Pervez Musharraf on judiciary. Earlier than that, Chief Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui who refused to take oath to testify loyalty with General’s martial government was fired from his appointment along with five other judges in March 2000. The reality is that General Pervez Musharraf, like every dictator is not capable to tolerate the opposing view, and believes in removing his contenders by the use of muscle. Mysterious abductions of political workers, assassinations of journalists, extra judicial killing of Akbar Bugti, bombardment on religious schools and current assault on the highest judiciary is the continuity of his atrocious policies that reflect the image of his autocratic mindset.
According to the information, Justice Chudhry has been put into house arrest at his residence in Islamabad and no one is allowed to see him. Neither, any journalist is allowed to meet him to solicit his point of view, nor Justice Chudhry is permitted to seek the advice of anyone for the advocacy of his case. According to some sources he is being pressurized to resign and not to pursue the defense against the filed judicial reference.

From snatching the office of President to the sacking Chief Justice, every step taken by General Pervez Musharraf is unlawful and unconstitutional, and cannot be supported in any situation. The necessity of the time demands the commonalty to organize and chase a countrywide campaign against this savage step




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