LAHORE - Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar's speech in Lahore last week remained highlight of the week.

In his speech, the chief justice reproached critics of the judiciary, saying, “Judiciary is like an elder; don’t abuse your elder.” Speaking in a rather aggressive tone, the chief justice said he can say with responsibility that judges render their decisions with utmost honesty. “Where do these pressures come from?” he asked, dispelling the impression that judges succumb to pressure from the outside. “No one is born yet [who could dictate judges],” he said.

“Judiciary is not part of any [political] design or plan and the judges are performing absolutely independently,”

the CJP said.

Likening the judiciary to Baba Rehmat (a wise old man), he said: “The judiciary is your baba... do not doubt its integrity.” No one should abuse judiciary if it renders an unfavourable decision, he added. He was addressing a seminar titled “Seeking justice, challenges and their solution”. The seminar was attended by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, LHC judges and judicial officers of lower courts, law officers and representatives of bars.

The chief justice said those against whom a judgement had been issued had the right to criticise the motive behind the verdict, but he questioned the insinuations of the “judiciary being part of a plan” or “being under pressure”.

Without mentioning any names, he said, “If a decision is issued against you, don’t abuse [the judiciary] by saying the baba has become part of a design or a grand plan… The baba has not and will not become part [of a plan].”

Justice Saqib Nisar said he believed in supremacy of parliament and quoted his own judgement on 18th Amendment wherein he had said that democracy was important for the state.

The CJP said, “We have taken oath to protect the constitution... We’ll not let democracy and our integrity down... I also mentioned democracy in my yesterday’s judgement (that disqualified PTI leader Jahangir Tareen)... because there is no constitution if there is no democracy.”

“You should be proud of the judiciary, which we have made independent from within. Every judge is independent... You must be happy that you have an independent judiciary,” he said, adding, “We made all decisions on merit.”

The CJP also strongly criticised the TV anchors, saying “they don’t read any judgement and don’t know the circumstances. They give their own judgements. We are often stunned to hear them on TV giving verdicts on sensitive matters”.

Justice Saqib said on oath that he didn’t know that verdict on the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case was going to be given the same day [Friday] when they were going to give judgement on Hanif Abbasi’s petitions against PTI chief Imran Khan and his close aide Jahangir Khan Tareen.

“Had someone been able to dictate [judges], the Hudaibiya judgement would not have turned out the way it did,” he said.

Referring to analyses on TV channels, he said the perception that there was some kind of division within the Supreme Court was wrong. He however acknowledged delay in the judicial process, saying some “not very competent judges” are responsible for delays, multiplication of litigation and high expenses of cases. An efficient training programme is therefore necessary for judges, he added.

Justice Nisar said he would get a chance to listen to underprivileged plaintiffs of the country once the “political dirt gets cleaned by laundry of the Supreme Court”.

The CJP said that judges were called from unknown phone numbers and asked to stay away from certain cases. “Some anonymous callers ask the judges to stay away from the cases with a message that some famous lawyer was talking about his deal with the judges at some place,” he said. “Why no action is taken against such callers and disciplinary action against how many people has been taken so

far?” he asked.

He also expressed dismay over non-professional attitude of lawyers who move frivolous petitions and create hurdles in the way of dispensation of justice. “Whenever we impose costs on them for frivolous cases, they plead not to do so because they filed these cases on the insistence of their clients,” he said, and asked, “What is the character of a lawyer who files cases just to get fee?”

The chief justice condemned an incident wherein a woman judge was insulted and exploited, saying, “Who the hell are those who abuse judges and take the law into their hands? Survival of the judges has become difficult.”

Justice Saqib said flu and fever were grounds for adjournments and nobody knows how long at night judges have to study the cases. “I hardly sleep three to four hours a day and sometimes go on a walk with Justice Ijazul Ahsan,” the CJP said.

However, he said, it is a fact that perhaps they [members of the judiciary] have not rendered quality justice for those who deserve it, and asked the participants to make a promise to ‘give the best year’ [of performance] with ‘utmost honesty, dedication and integrity’.

The CJP emphasised training for judges of the lower judiciary. Addressing Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, he said, “Judicial officers must be provided training so that they could know exact prepositions of law.”

Speaking with reference to the procedure laid down for appointments to the superior judiciary, the CJP dispelled the impression that it had loopholes.

“Since the day I became head of the judicial commission, I have been taking opinion from the bars first and then from judges about appointments to the superior judiciary.”

He pointed out that a judge must have three qualities: integrity, knowledge of law and good conduct. He said they ensured competency while making appointments and also reviewed it.

After making new appointments, he said, he personally checked performance of the judges and quality of their judgements. He quoted the Munir Bhatti case and said that they had been looking to rules beyond that case. He suggested the bar leaders to write a book on legal prepositions with the assistance of law

 commission.

However, there was strong reaction on social media about the speech of the CJP. Social media users did different comments on his speech, especially the CJP's likening of the judiciary to ‘Baba Rehmat’.

Some said, "Baba Jee Siasat karni hey to istefa de kar siasat kay maidan me aa jayen aur karen thok baja kar siasat: Baba Rehmat ban kar siasat jachti ni hey janab" (Dear elder if you want to do politics resign first and join it with full passion. Being an elder, it doesn't suit).

Another comment said, "Baba Zahmat par to koe Dabao hey he ni" (There is pressure on Baba Zahmat). "Baba Rahmat is not acceptable if he gives decisions contradictory to the Constitution," another comment was seen on the twitter.

Likewise, one of the account users said that "We tell you from where these pressures come. Had you taken action against the pressure builders in accountability courts we would have agreed with you."

Murtaza said on his twitter account, "It is correct: No one is born yet to pressurize the judges. Ayub Khan used to be in Argentina. Ziaul Haq had been in Zimbabwe, while Musharraf used to live in Mozambique. Tell me more."

Another twitter user, Anwar Lodhi, appreciated Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar for snubbing the critics of the judgements.

He said "the Chief Justice spoke from the core of his heart. Nobody can say that he was telling a lie. The CJP rightly snubbed the critics of the judiciary."

Muhammad Muhammad, another account holder of the twitter, wrote: "The Chief Justice's warm speech, different style and courage impressed me."