LAHORE (MIAN DAWOOD) – Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhamamd Chaudhry has asked the masses not to vote for a political party that wants anarchy, saying loyalty to the state is the constitutional obligation of every citizen and disloyal persons have no room in the country.

“I want to make it clear that we have to be loyal to the state. Every person loyal to the state will be constitutionally protected. But if any doubt occurs about loyalty of a citizen or he does something against the sovereignty or public order or propagates against the state will be dealt with in accordance with the constitution and law, the CJP announced.”

He was addressing a huge gathering of lawyers as the chief guest at the annual dinner arranged by the outgoing cabinet of the Lahore Bar Association. Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, judges of the high court and the district judiciary were also present.

In his address, the CJP said every citizen had got fundamental right to choose his representatives through his vote and should abstain from voting for a political party which was likely to create chaos in the country or to do an unconstitutional act.

As a result of lawyers’ historic movement, democratic system was restored and an elected government was going to complete its tenure, the CJP pointed out.

“Now, no one can derail the system because the people have become aware of their rights,” he said, adding only chosen representatives had the right to govern the country.

Iftikhar Chaudhry said the Supreme Court, through various judgments, had directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold free and fair elections and suggested that voting should be made compulsory in the country so that government could be formed in line with the will of majority of the people. He hoped the ECP would try to adhere to the SC verdicts by holding free and fair elections in the coming months.

It is a constitutional obligation of the state to ensure citizens’ dignity, freedom of assembly, association, trade, speech and information, he said. He said under Article 37 (D), the state is bound to ensure inexpensive and expeditious justice to the people of not as a favour but as a fundamental right. He regretted this had not being adhered to as was the essence of the constitution.

“We have sent a formal reference to the government asking for increasing the number of judicial officers in the country, but even after the lapse of many months, no positive response has been received, he said.”

The CJP said he knew that with the introduction of National Judicial Policy, the court system was under stress. “The National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC) has been responding to the complaints and suggestions received from lawyers’ bodies for further improvement in the policy and the judiciary hopes lawyers’ bodies would continue to give such suggestions. Resorting to strikes would further aggravate the problem of pendency and backlog of the cases,” the chief justice said.

The CJP added the law was applied irrespective of the fact whether an accused was a holder of the biggest office or a low-paid staffer. Similarly, in the cases related to the missing persons, no ‘ifs and buts’ were entertained and law and only law was invoked before giving any judgment, he pointed out. “The court recovered billions of rupees of corruption, by applying the principal of rule of law and enforcement of the constitution,” he said.

He declared the time to compromise on justice on the pretext of state necessity had long gone past. “Now, the only laws are to provide the foundation for administration of justice in the country. It is time that other state institutions and departments should also imbibe the spirit of the time in their day-to-day matters and discharge their duties strictly in accordance with the law,” the chief justice of Pakistan said.

The CJP said if other institutions and departments also play their due role under the rules, there was no reason why the nation should not proper.

Addressing the gathering, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said lawyers’ movement had proved that there would be only rule of law in the country. “One ‘no’ of the CJP had shown the destination to judges and legal fraternity of the country, and we are near to achieve the goal,” Bandial said. Now, he said, the judicial officers in Lahore’s district courts were working without fear because this year no incident of misbehaving with them by the lawyers happened.

He asked the trial courts of the Punjab to give good verdicts so that the parties in the case could not think of approaching the higher judiciary for revisions.

Earlier, Lahore Bar Association President Zulfiqar Chaudhary asked the CJP and the LHC chief justice to address the problems of the legal fraternity.