A rivalry seems to be brewing between the different segments of the judicial institution. The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) seems to have entered into a personal tiff against another senior judge – Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Of course no one can be expected to get along perfectly well with all of their colleagues, and diametrically opposed opinions are part and parcel of every profession – especially the judiciary where judges often reach opposing conclusions and spend reams upon reams of paper vociferously defending them.

The problem is much more serious than that. This tiff is not manifesting itself in a public argument, which although undesirable would still be relatively fine. It is being propagated through court hearings and legal judgements – a fact that should put all of us on edge.

The Islamabad High Court judge recently said that while CJP has the right to set aside, modify or uphold the verdicts of other judges, he does not have the right to humiliate them. According to him such actions are “damaging to the judicial institution”.

In and of itself this is not a problematic statement. In fact, many have raised such concerns after the incident with the session’s judge and it is appreciable to see someone from the judicial fraternity echo such thoughts as well. However, the fact that it was delivered during the hearing of a completely unrelated case, which had incidentally been decided a certain way by Justice Siddiqui before being reversed by the CJP – during the course of which the Justice Nisar had remarked that the “order [of the private school fee case] shows the mind-set of the author judge” and remanded the case back to the IHC – gives the whole episode another tinge.

The remarks are personal, and the back and forth leaves a bad taste on the palate. These differences need to be sorted out as they raise questions over the veracity of the judgements made. Were the made on the basis of the law or to spite the other judge?

This is not the only news of cracks within the judiciary. There were differences with Justice Dost as well, who recently retired and refused an honorary ceremony because of difference in opinion over political issues being resolved in courts rather than the parliament. These minor glitches will not set a positive trend for the judicial system.