LAHORE - Outgoing Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial will be remembered for his important decisions in different case including Kalabagh Dam, political use of the President House by former president Asif Ali Zardari, power loadshedding, Local Government elections on party basis, fees of medical students at Sheikh Zayed Hospital, and the most important are his decisions he made to resolve political matters of many candidates of different political parties.

CJ Bandial was appointed as a LHC additional judge on December 1, 2004 and took oath as LHC chief justice on May 31, 2012. He had declined oath under the PCO in November 2007, but was restored as the LHC judge after the restoration movement of Judiciary and constitutional rule in the country.

During his 2-year tenure as the CJ, Justice Bandial proved himself as one of the best judges of the Lahore High Court. He maintained the dignity and respect of the judiciary by his timely judgments on number of public interest litigations.

Being really courageous, Justice Bandial announced decision against the then sitting president Asif Ali Zardari for using the President House for political purpose and delivering his judgment on Kalabagh Dam, with clear cut directions to the federal government to step forward for the construction of Kalabagh Dam by implementing the decision of Council of Common Interest (CCI) on November 29, 2012.

Besides it, before taking oath as the CJ, he also rendered judgments on a number of important issues. These included the enforcement of transparency and merit criteria for appointment of Provincial Pubic Prosecutors under the Punjab Criminal Prosecution Service (Constitution, Functions and Powers) Act, 2006 in his judgment reported as Mushtaq Ahmed Mohal versus Government of Punjab and others (2009 PLC (C.S.) 763).

In respect of the constitutional mandates, he affirmed the independence of the Chief Election Commissioner in a division bench judgment reported as M Azhar Siddique and others versus Government of the Punjab etc. (PLD 2010 Lahore 138(D.B.). The said judgments were upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan. The sanctity of the Presidential Office as a symbol of the unity of the Federation requiring its detachment from political activity was iterated in case reported as Pakistan Lawyers Forum versus Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2011 Lahore 382 F.B.).

The necessity of assuring transparency and competition in governmental licensing of Haj Group Organisers in a Rs9.25 billion annual business was laid down in M/s Golden Falcon Travel Services (Pvt) Ltd. vs. Ministry of Religious Affairs, Haj, Zakat, Usher (PLD 2007 Lahore 550 D.B.). For the enforcement of fundamental rights to property, Justice Umar Ata Bandial exercised the writ jurisdiction to reach a private bank in case of AF Industries versus Federation of Pakistan (2010 CLD 1765). He declared the Lahore Skyline to be a public property for local authority regulation of the erection of billboards and sky signs in the case of Mehran Advertiser versus Government of Punjab.

The overall disposal of cases at both lower and higher judiciary was speedy in accordance with the National Judicial Policy which promoted the trust of the people in courts; thus, majority of the people intended to courts to seek justice during his tenure. He also played his role to maintain good relations between bar and bench.