CHIEF Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry used the occasion of the new judicial year to bring out the role of judiciary in preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution and touched on certain other matters related to the administration of justice. In a speech he delivered at Islamabad on Monday, he rightly contended that the judges sometimes had to adjudicate on actions of other organs of the state and, in the process, declare some of them as illegal or unconstitutional. This is one of the judiciary's obligations under the Constitution. The argument should, therefore, silence those who have lately been raising an outcry of 'judicial activism', when in fact it was merely discharging its duty. Without this oversight, there would literally be no check on the actions of other pillars of the state, to the great disadvantage of the people. The best course would be for all institutions not to exceed the limits of their power so that the judiciary does not have to intervene. The question of pending cases, not a small number of which remain undecided over an agonisingly long period of time, has been the subject of intense debate in the country. There are instances when more than one generation has to undergo the ordeal of a pending case. In this context, Chief Justice Chaudhry pointed out that the two-year-long judicial crisis had led to a further build-up of the backlog but he was confident that if the present tempo of the disposal of cases continued, things would markedly improve. The good news is that the judges have been holding court during the vacations as well, allowing for the disposal of some of the backlog. Discussing the crucial matter of the independence of judiciary, the Chief Justice made a pertinent reference to an attempt at fixing the tenure of judges in the past. It is difficult to find fault with his conclusion that the tenure fixing tended to harass and disturb the judges. It is quite obvious that to ensure independence of the judiciary there should be no such constraint. Corruption is another element that inhibits judicial independence. Unfortunately, there is no dearth of complaints about it being widespread. It is particularly rampant in the lower courts and unless something is done about it, independence of the judiciary would remain a mirage. The reactivation of the Supreme Judicial Council, which the Chief Justice mentioned in his address, would take up complaints of misconduct and corruption. A new clause in the code of conduct designed to enable the superior judiciary to guard against unwarranted interference from the executive has been added. These measures, if sincerely implemented, would go a long way in helping restore the judiciary's image.