On Thursday, `17th of January the eventful tenure of Honourable Chief Justice (CJP) Saqib Nisar came to an end. A ceremony was held yesterday in Justice Nisar’s honour, where Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, the Supreme Court (SC) judge who CJP Nisar will hand down his mantle to, made an extremely impactful speech, which included a lot of giveaways about the direction that Pakistan’s judiciary will be steered towards in the coming year.

Justice Khosa made many statements which packed a punch and revealed a radically different approach to his predecessor. Like his predecessor, Justice Khosa said that he also was keen on dams- but unlike water dams, the ones Justice Khosa wants to work on are dams against undue and unnecessary delays in judicial determination of cases, against frivolous litigation and pending cases. Most Supreme Court CJPS have pet projects- and it seems Justice Khosa’s most important goal is to make the dispensation of justice faster and more competent by eliminating backlog of cases and frivolous litigation.

Perhaps the most politically relevant stance that Justice Khosa made were his remarks on the use of suo moto by the Supreme Court- he stated that the power to take suo motu notices will be used sparingly, The incoming CJP’s view on Article 184 (3) was extremely important considering Justice Nisar’s liberal use of suo moto- which is an extraordinary relief- dominated the conversation on the judiciary during his tenure. The Supreme Court in the last year took suo moto on cases ranging from criminal murder cases to constitutional disqualifications of parliamentarians to matters pertaining to bureaucratic running of health and education departments- judicial activism reached to a point that raised concerns about the separation of powers. Justice Khosa’s view on the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction was the question on everybody’s minds- and his answer, that it should be used rarely, doesn’t disappoint.

So far, Justice Khosa’s speech, and his past record, is impressive. Justice Khosa’s methodology of reforming the judiciary- by disbanding Special Courts and limiting adjournments – has its pros and cons but if he manages to bring at least some positive change from within the judiciary itself, and if he follows through on his promise of limiting the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction, his legacy as CJP, even if only for eleven months, would be more lasting than those who ruled longer than him.