After I got married, (all those years ago), I went with my beautiful wife to Islamabad for a roadtrip to meet up with some friends of ours. By the time I got married, I had passed my LLB examinations, was still undergoing a strenuous apprenticeship with my Ustaad and had begun to appear before the subordinate Courts, with a year to go till I was eligible for my license to practice as an Advocate of the High Courts. We were driving on Constitution Avenue, when a familiar building next to Parliament came into view. It was of course, the ultimate symbol of justice – the Supreme Court of Pakistan. I stopped the car and asked my wife to snap a picture of me. Now this was back in the day, when Constitution Avenue was not declared a part of the security-sensitive “Red Zone” and it just so happened, that police officers guarding the gates of the Court did not object. I stood outside the gate of the Supreme Court and asked her to take a picture of me, with the Court in full view and the words “Supreme Court of Pakistan” in the background. She inquired what all the fuss was about. I retorted that this is where history is made and this is the ultimate objective for a practicing Advocate in Pakistan – to be able to appear and argue before the highest Court of the land!

I had had the opportunity of working on a case with the other senior lawyers of the office during my early days of apprenticeship, in which my Ustaad had been engaged to argue before the Supreme Court. But back then, I was still getting a feel of the “law” and trying to make sense of all the reading, procedures and rigour that was involved in the profession. It was not until about six years into working with my Ustaad, that I began to understand and learn about the SC’s functioning and importance as a pillar of the State. Articles 175, 185(3), 184(3), 189, 188, 204 of the Constitution were read and various leading and historic judgments on the said Articles were attempted to be absorbed. Then the introductory yet very important Parts I and II of the Constitution wherein the Objective Resolution, fundamental rights and principles of policy were focused on. And on matters of procedures before the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Pakistan Rules, 1980 was looked at in great detail and one was introduced to the concept of an “Advocate on Record” (AOR) who would be the person responsible for filing petitions and applications on behalf of an Advocate appearing in a particular case before the Supreme Court. It was a privilege to begin to learn about substantive and procedural laws relating to the Supreme Court of Pakistan and was a far better introduction to begin to grasp the importance of its existence in the country, as opposed to its portrayal through the explosive and sensational media lens at the time.

Aside from the usual frantic preparations involved before dates fixed for arguments in Court, when one is arguing before a learned Bench of the Supreme Court (as I have observed), each particular Courtroom has its own presence. From Courtroom No. 1 with the high ceilings and being on a massive scale to Courtroom No. 3 or 4, albeit smaller in size, but as structured and ordered as Courtroom No. 1. Arguments are addressed meticulously, the Court staff is always on its toes to respond to requests from the Bench to provide them with the necessary Statute or Case law books and the Advocates and Advocates on Record present in the Court are expected to maintain proper decorum and exemplify the highest standards of competence, integrity and ability whilst assisting the Court. I have been very fortunate to be present during hearings of many important cases decided by the Supreme Court whilst assisting my Ustaad before different registries of the Supreme Court, be it in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi or Quetta and getting to see and learn from the notable Senior Advocates of our profession is always an experience. And I have seen and observed over the years, arguing before the Supreme Court is a true test of one’s advocacy and professional skills as a litigating lawyer.

Given our country’s effervescent political climate, the Supreme Court is more often than not, called into action to decide cases of public importance. However, being the final arbiter of justice in this country, it also has a constitutional responsibility to administer justice to all those litigants who bring their cases before the Court for a fair and just decision on merits. As a young, aspiring litigating lawyer, the ultimate goal is to be able to have the opportunity to assist the Apex Court in a particular case. To achieve that goal would require patience, labor, skill and proper training in preparation of a case, when one starts out from appearing before the subordinate judiciary. To this day, with a few years left to become eligible to apply for a license to plead before the Supreme Court, my quest to become an “Advocate” still continues. The ultimate objective – to play a constructive part in the administration of justice in a particular case and have it reported as a Supreme Court judgment…that is something worth the blood, sweat and tears.