LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed has said that no one ever interfered in his work nor he was pressurized and guided to announce a specific verdict.
The top judge was speaking at the Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore in response to comments made by some lawyers.
Chief justice said that people should not be mistaken and the impression that courts are not independent is wrong as he always gave verdicts in light of constitution and law.
“We are bound by oath. I have never taken pressure from any institution and never listened to anyone,” he added.
The chief justice expressed anger over the lawyers’ remarks and urged them to read judgments of the courts.
“We work and will continue to do so without pressure. There is a rule of law in Pakistan, not human beings. We will continue to uphold the Constitution, law and democracy in the country. We will not accept any undemocratic setup. We will resign from our posts [before succumbing to pressure] and we have done that before as well.”
He added that nobody had guided him and he did not take dictation on how to write his decisions.
“I never made a decision on anyone’s request and no one has ever dared to say anything to me,” he reiterated.
“The court does what it wants to do. It does not do what anyone else wants it to. Nobody has ever dared to stop us,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti said that the judiciary is the guardian of citizens’ rights.
Speaking in the Asma Jahangir conference, the LHC CJ said that the judiciary has a significant role in society. The Constitution gives importance to the fundamental rights of the people, he added.
The LHC CJ said that citizens’ rights are the basis of a democratic society.
On the other hand, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah acknowledged the lawyers’ criticism.
“It is very important for us to know what the bar and what the people think about us,” he added while expressing his gratitude to the lawyers.
“Let me assure the lawyers that no judge who is independent can ever make an excuse that he can be pressured or influenced. Any such excuse, I am afraid, is a violation of the oath.”
Justice Minallah said the verdicts, including those in the Nusrat Bhutto and Zafar Ali Shah cases, were part of history that could not be erased.
“The judgments are responsible for the making and enabling of those that have been referred to by the lawyers,” he added.
While criticising the role of the Judiciary, the Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Ali Ahmad Kurd, called for civil supremacy in the country in his hard-hitting speech.
“One general is dominating a country of 220 million people. This same general has sent the judiciary down to number 126 [in rankings],” he said.
He urged the people to ensure that they became the rulers instead of letting “only one general” to dominate them.
Various speakers including journalist Hamid Mir, anchorperson Munizae Jahangir, editor-in-chief of Voicepk.net & board member of AGHS Legal Aid Cell, and Christine Chung (South Asia team leader, office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Right) attended the session in person.
Christine Chung said that as per a report of Reporters Without Borders, 45 journalists were killed in 2021, out of which nine were from South Asian countries. She said the disturbing fact was that none of the murderers was punished so far. She said the media freedom was a must for a true democracy.
She said that India was curtailing freedom of expression by passing various laws, especially in [Indian-occupied] Kashmir.
Hamid Mir said he condemned those who did not issue visas to the above-mentioned participants in the conference. He said media was not free in Pakistan. “Go to any village of the country and tell common people that media is free in Pakistan and he will laugh it out,” he said.
Mir said in 2021, Reporters Without Borders issued a list of names of 37 heads of states who were curtailing media and the names of heads of state of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were included in the list.
Besides, a multitude of rights activists, economists and lawyers from various countries are scheduled to participate in the conference as speakers and moderators in the second day of the conference.