ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry Monday said that protection of the Constitution was the duty of the superior judiciary and that it would perform at any cost. While addressing at the ceremony held in connection with the new judicial year, the Chief Justice said that under the oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, judges sometimes adjudicated upon the actions of other authorities of states and sometimes the administrative branch of government felt offended and annoyed with the orders passed by judiciary against their illegal or unconstitutional actions. However, he said, this was duty of the judiciary under the Constitution, which it couldnt hesitate to perform. The Constitution invests the superior judiciary with the powers to intervene whenever any state organ exceeds its prescribed limits, he added. The Chief Justice said that the judicial crisis in the country over the past two years resulted in huge number of pending cases before the courts and delay in justice. However, he expressed his confidence to wipe out the backlog if the judiciary maintained its rate of disposal since restoration of the deposed judiciary. He said judges continued to hear cases during the vacations in order to help clear the backlog. He further said that the purpose of independence of judiciary could not be achieved until the judges were allowed to work without any fear of tenure. He said that judges in the past had been disturbed and harassed through attempts to fix tenure of the chief justice of Pakistan and chief justices of the provincial high courts. He also said that the Supreme Judicial Council had been reactivated in taking up complaints of misconduct and corruption. A new clause had been added in the code of conduct for the judges of superior judiciary to guard against unwarranted interference from the executive through unconstitutional or extra-constitutional measures, he said. The Chief Justice said that for the first time in 62 years, the judiciary had made people to believe that their welfare existed in rule of law and constitutionalism. He paid tributes to judges of the superior courts who, he said, stood firm against the dictator and refused to support his unconstitutional actions. He also paid tributes to the lawyers, civil society and media for their struggle for restoration of the deposed judiciary. The Chief Justice regretted that the constitutional consultees for the appointment of judges at the superior judiciary had been heavily pressurised during the past one month for selection of certain persons. However, he said, no one succumbed to the pressure and the selection was made purely on merit. He also quoted lines from certain applications received for the posts of judges where the applicants requested for the job offering and pledged that they would never provide any opportunity of complaint. President Supreme Court Bar Association Ali Ahmad Kurd in his address said that nothing had changed since the restoration of the deposed judiciary. He said there was still the same routine and practice, the same attitude and behaviour of judges from top to bottom. He said they were facing Pharaoh minded people in the courts who gave weight and importance to disposal of cases, rather than doing justice. He also regretted that the judges granted leave in a very limited number of petitions and rejected other without passionate hearings. He said lawyers were very responsible persons and they could not even think to waste precious time of the court by filing frivolous petitions. Attorney General of Pakistan Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, too, spoke on the occasion. He appreciated the efforts made by the superior judiciary for the sake of rule of law and constitutionalism in the country but said there was much more to be done in that regard. He urged the courts to encourage alternate dispute resolution mechanism to enhance rate of disposal of cases. Khosa stressed the need of merit for the appointment of judges into the superior judiciary, saying the credibility and performance of judiciary was directly proportional to the quality of appointments. He also stressed the Chief Justice to encourage young lawyers, especially female graduates, by considering them for the post of judges. The attorney general said that the court must check excess and provide redress against exercise of arbitrary power and abuse of discretion. However, it must not lose the sight of the fact that its duty was to adjudicate, not to rule. It must hold the balance between liberty and order, he said. He admitted when state action exceeded the bounds of reasons, it was constitutional duty of the court to intervene. APP adds: The Chief Justice said the court respected and supported the democratic institutions, elected officials and public functionaries to fully perform their functions, which was necessary for good governance and socio-economic and political development in the country. He said the organs of state couldnt flourish until they strictly followed the constitutional and legal norms. In the past, he said an attempt was made to disturb the independence of judiciary by fixing the tenure of the chief justice of Pakistan and the chief justices of the High Courts through the Constitution (Sixth Amendment) Act 1976, which was not accepted by general public and resultantly it had to be omitted through the Item 34 of the schedule to the P.O. No. 14 of 1985. Similar efforts had been made from time to time to change the retirement age of the judges of the superior judiciary. All such acts were perpetuated to interdict the independence of judiciary, he added. The Chief Justice said the powers of judicial review were exercised by the superior courts under Article 199 and 184 of the Constitution to ensure protection of the fundamental rights. Chaudhry said that prior to the judicial crisis, this court cleared huge backlog of pending cases. During the year 2005-2006, despite 30,000 pending cases and fresh institution of annual 15,000 cases, the court disposed of record number of cases and considerably reduced the backlog. He said the people of the country after the restoration of judiciary were looking towards the judiciary to take such steps which would close the door for any intruder to step in and abrogate the Constitution. He said that the July 31 verdict of the apex court had not only imposed restriction on the dictators but the members of the judiciary had also been restrained from providing protection to the unconstitutional acts of the usurpers by taking oath under any unconstitutional instrument. He said the verdict would lay the foundation of real democracy, supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law in the country.