ISLAMABAD - Good governance and constitutional rule can be maintained and strengthened only when there is respect for the rule of law and the legal institutions are strong and functioning well.

Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jillani said that in the full court reference held on the eve of his retirement as Chief Justice of Pakistan after attaining the age of superannuation.

He said no democracy can endure if constitutional pledges and values do not bring about a positive change in the lives of the people and a constitutional culture is not nurtured. "Enforcement of laws and verdicts can promote values of trust and tolerance and thereby affect the human behaviour patterns."

The challenges faced by the judiciary during the last few years have recharged the judiciary and it has emerged as an active pillar of the state. It marked the beginning of a new constitutional jurisprudence. It has put an end to constitutional deviations, social role of the rule of law which led to greater awareness amongst the people of their fundamental rights and the values of democracy.

Justice Jillani said the Supreme Court has been resolute in protecting constitutional values, responding to social dynamics and expanding the scope of judicial review. The expansion of fundamental rights jurisprudence has transformed the apex court from a formal constitutional court to an institution with a human rights face in which the essence of constitutional interpretation is people oriented, leading to a reconstruction of judicial power.

The outgoing chief justice said there are some people who describe it as judicial activism. "This new people oriented profile of judicial power that has begun to emerge is not unique to our court but there has been a global trend in most of the democracies where judiciary has adopted a more people oriented approach and thereby expanded the frontiers of its judicial authority."

He briefed the gathering about the steps and the judgment he rendered for the benefit of people, particularly the rights of minority community. During Justice Jillani’s tenure as CJP, overseas Pakistani desk was set up in the Human Rights Cell of the Supreme Court to solve the problems of people living abroad.

CJP-designate Justice Nasir ul Mulk, in his address, said that the governance structure in Pakistan can only be strengthened when all the institutions of the state work in accordance with law. He said the institutions need to work in harmony with one another and it is their constitutional duty to desist from undue interference in the functioning of other pillars of state. "In case, institutions do not respect the trichotomy of power, we fear that the rights of the people will be violated and disregarded."

This separation of power creates adequate checks and balances wherein Courts may undertake judicial review and step in when the executive and legislature acts ultra-vires of the Constitution. The primary responsibility to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" rests upon the judiciary under the Constitutional Oath of Office.

The judges have to administer justice in accordance with law and not according to the personal sense of justice, as predictability and certainty are defining features of a sound judicial system. "Personal perceptions of justice when not reigned in, disturb the trust that people have in the integrity and predictability of law in administration of their affairs." He informed that in the last six months more than half of the criminal cases pending in the apex court have been decided and hoped that by the summer of 2015 such backlog of criminal cases would be completely wiped out.

Justice Nasir said that a similar sustained and concentrated effort is being planned for tackling the backlog of constitutional, civil, service, revenue and other cases and results in that regard would soon become apparent in the coming months. He said the lawyers should avoid the unnecessary and avoidable adjournments, saying he expects the members of the Bar would appreciate the importance of appearance before courts over and above all other personal, social and professional engagements.

Paying tribute to Justice Tassaduq Jillani he said that he would be remembered as a jurist, a poet, an author and above all a humble and polite gentleman judge, a stalwart of constitutionalism in Pakistan. The contributions Justice Jillani for the freedom of judiciary and rule of law in Pakistan shall be remembered in the verses of ‘our Judicial Anthem, titled Justice for All'. Attorney General Pakistan Salman Butt and vice-chairmen of Supreme Court Bar Association and Pakistan Bar Council also paid tribute to Justice Jillani.