The book “A History of Judiciary in Pakistan” by Hamid Khan is a distinct piece of writing, discussing the development of judiciary and its system in the country. It forms to be a valuable part of the literature on legal studies in Pakistan and beyond. It is particularly for the fact that there is not much written on judiciary in Pakistan. The discussion in this book starts with the formulation of judicial system in British India and deliberates the court structure and appeal system of that time. After precisely talking about the division of courts, its records and its infrastructure at the time of partitioning of sub-continent between newly established states – India and Pakistan – it turns to discuss the judicial system and development of laws in Pakistan.
The book consists of fifteen chapters and most of the chapters discuss different eras of judiciary under different Chief Justices of Pakistan. The first chapter discusses the judiciary at the time of independence, whereas, the second sheds light on the judicial era of the Chief Justice Abdul Rashid and the establishment of Federal Court of Pakistan in 1949. The next chapter relates to Chief Justice Muhammad Munir who was succeeded by Chief Justice A. R. Cornelius in 1960, who held office till 1968. According to the author, this period was the golden period of Pakistan’s judicial history. A lot of legal jurisprudence was developed in this period. The tempestuous period of Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman ranging from 1968 to 1975 has been deliberated in chapter six. It thoroughly brings into study the changes which occurred in judiciary as a result of fall of Dhaka. The judicial period of Chief Justice Yaqub Ali is discussed in chapter seven. According to the author, Chief Justice Yaqub, though was a competent judge who wrote various outstanding judgments but he fell prey to the evils of self-interests and was responsible for Sixth Constitutional Amendment, extending the period of his service. Chapter twelve gives an account about the judicial era of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah as Chief Justice from 1994 to 1997. Chief Justice Sajjad is said to have been in confrontation with political governments of its time. This was the period when Supreme Court of Pakistan was attacked by Nawaz Sharif along with his political supporters and the judges of the Supreme Court had to evict the courts for the sake of personal safety. In 1997 Justice Ajmal Mian became the Chief Justice of Pakistan and in this period judiciary recovered partially and restored its integrity. Justice Mian dealt with various high profile cases and delivered landmark judgments which are still cited before the courts as authorities on their respective subjects. In 1999 Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui became the Chief Justice of Pakistan and continued till 2000, when he was succeeded by Justice Irshad Hassan Khan. The important cases and their terms as Chief Justice of Pakistan have been discussed in chapters fourteen and fifteen of the book. In 2002 Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmed became the Chief Justice who was reinstated with Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui in 2003 and continued till 2005. In June 2005 Iftikhar Muhamamd Chaudhary became the Chief Justice of Pakistan who was suspended and sacked in 2007 due to corruption allegations by the then president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharaf. His removal gave birth to a movement in civil society including the lawyers, which culminated his restoration at the post of Chief justice of Pakistan. Besides, the apex judiciary this book also discusses the judicial development in the different High Courts of Pakistan.
A distinguished aspect of this book is that it also deliberates the notable judgments of each era of judiciary. Some of those judgments have been widely criticized for compromising the judicial integrity, conversely, the other are highly appreciated for upholding the principles of justice and taking pragmatic stands. Lawyers, judges, law professors and students of law, political science and history will find this book of particular value, as will the general reader.