Javed Chaudhary’s recent articles, after his meeting with the former Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa, have opened a pandora box of controversies relating to the state of justice in this country. However, these articles only reveal what many familiar with the corridors of power already knew. There is a long history of judges conspiring with the junta to dispense predetermined judgements for the purpose of political engineering. A history that is often repeated.
From the second Chief Justice of the country, Justice Muhammad Munir, engineering the construction of the full bench of the Supreme Court to obtain a predefined outcome in the Maulvi Tamizuddin Case (this was to benefit then Governor General Ghulam Muhammad when he had illegally dissolved the Constituent Assembly days after the first draft of the Constitution was adopted), to the judicial murder of the first democratically elected leader of the country Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (this was on the behest of military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq), to the Panama era political engineering under the notorious attention-seeking and theatrical Chief Justice Saqib Nisar (where selected benches of ‘like-minded’ judges started getting made and another Prime Minister was disqualified and sent home).
Judges, over the years, have constantly overstepped their constitutional roles and have engaged in political engineering. Considering this history the allegations that Imran Khan was given an ‘NRO’ by the judges while Jahangir Tareen was disqualified as a ‘balancing act’ are not surprising for the political pundits of the country.
But what is surprising is that while, over the years, newspapers keep filling up with the news of illegal practices of the custodians of the law, and while chapters after chapters of judicial overstepping keep getting added to history books, not a single judge in the history of the country has been held accountable for misusing their power, for engaging in political manipulations, and for undermining the democratic development of the country.
In fact, it is those judges that expose the misdeeds of the judiciary or the intelligence agencies that get punished. In recent years, when an Islamabad High Court judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, accused the ISI of interfering with the judiciary for political meddling, it was Justice Siddiqui that got punished by being dismissed from his post. A Supreme Court Judge, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, also almost became a victim of the military-judiciary alliance after the Faizabad Dharna case, where he, along with Justice Mushir Alam, had directed the intelligence agencies to not engage in political activity. The fact that he was expected to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court triggered a campaign of having him removed.
We are told that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, but it seems that some people are more equal than others as they never get tried for their crimes. A mistake made accidentally can be forgiven, but should sinister misuse of positions of power be ignored? Should violations of the trust in the highest office of justice be ignored? Should a selected few continue to undermine, overwrite, and overlook the constitution of the country? Is the highest court of the country there to dispense justice to the people of Pakistan or is there to protect the interests of the most powerful? These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves. It is about time that we decide if a pillar of this state should continue to be weaponised against it. Whether it is fear, political biases, or something else, if anything is influencing a judge to diverge from their duty, then the code of honour commands that they resign and go home.