ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court will ward off any challenge to democracy as judges of the superior courts have taken oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

“It is our promise on account of our sacred oath that the Constitution will be protected in letter and spirit,” Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Chief Justice-designate, stated this while addressing a Full Court Reference held in honour of Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali on Thursday.

Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Farough Naseem, President Supreme Court Bar Association Rasheed A Rizvi also spoke on the occasion and paid tribute to Justice Jamali.

Justice Saqib clarified that judiciary will not tolerate corruption either within or outside as it has never encouraged or tolerated the scourge. “Besides cleaning our own house of corruption, the judiciary will play its role in eradication of the menace from other limbs of the government,” he added.

He said corruption taints the very fabric of society and the state. The act of corruption by state actors is a complete fraud on exercise of their power, including the executive or judicial limbs of the state. To end corruption very honest actions and vigilance are required, he added.

On democracy, Justice Saqib said one of the most important components of a democracy is independence of judiciary. This is necessary for upholding the separation of powers, rule of law and human rights. It is important that the judiciary of a country is impartial and free from all sorts of external pressures and influence, only then can the public have confidence that their cases will be decided in accordance with the law.

The chief justice-designate said it was the moral and legal duty to uphold the rights of all minorities, including religious minorities. As the custodian and guardian of such rights, this court will ensure their enforcement, including women’s rights, in a meaningful manner.

The judicature is to act as a neutral and impartial arbiter in all civil and criminal issues while in constitutional obligation to enforce fundamental rights of the citizens.

“Once the breach of these rights is established before us, there should be no element of discretion left with the court to refuse their enforcement,” he added. The courts are obliged and duty-bound to enforce these rights.

He said the apex court while exercising the jurisdiction under Article 184 of the Constitution often examined the executive actions of state functionaries and passes effective orders. At times, the legislative actions of Parliament, including subordinate legislation, have been examined and declared to be ultra vires. He said Dicey defined the rule of law as equality before law.

About delay in expeditious disposal of cases, he suggested that there is a need to resort to Alternate Dispute Resolution. This has proved to be a very effective mechanism in countries, which have adopted it. “If

 ADR cannot straightaway be installed for every kind of litigation, it may be gradually introduced into the system by creating an arrangement where a certain category of commercial matters be resolved through ADR,” he added.

Likewise in the criminal justice system in order to provide effective and speedy justice, it is expedient that the methods and mechanism of investigation must be improved by resorting to modern tools and techniques such as greater use of forensic science and DNA profiling.

Outgoing, Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, while addressing the gathering, said the performance of Judicial Commission of Pakistan constituted under the 18th constitutional amendment for appointment of judges of the superior courts, is better than the past four to five years.

He said whenever a new institution is established, it faces some problems. However, he claimed that the performance of the Judicial

Commission on appointment of judges is now better than the past four to five years.

The Chief Justice also termed the impression as wrong, given by the Supreme Court Bar Association and Pakistan Bar Council pertaining to non-functional of the Supreme Judicial Commission (SJC) a forum under 209 of the Constitution that hears the matters relating to complaints against the judges of the superior courts.

The Chief Justice said that recently on December 13, progress has been made in five cases, pending with the Supreme Judicial Council.

He said that judges of the superior courts are independent in taking decisions, adding if any judge violates law and Constitution, the Chief Justice is authorised under article 209 of the Constitution to take action against the judges.

Referring to the general cases, he said the apex court receives daily about 70 to 75 applications of which 95 per cent applications have been admitted for regular hearing.

He said that as compared to last four to five years, the performance of Judicial Commission on appointment of judges is better, adding they had invited parliamentarians of both the Senate and National Assembly to remove misunderstandings that were developed among the institutions and hoped that it will be resolved and removed as well.

The Chief Justice further informed that a committee has been constituted to examine the laws of Judicial Commission of Pakistan that were amended.

President Supreme Court Bar Association Rashid A Rizvi and Dr Farough

Nasim, while addressing the Full Court Reference, raised objection over the performance of Judicial Commission of Pakistan and non-functional of the Supreme Judicial Council.