Islamabad - Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has termed Pakistani judicial system the strongest backer of democracy, enjoying full confidence and faith of legal fraternity, other institutions and the public at large.

He was addressing the concluding session of three-day International Judicial Conference, which culminated here at the Supreme Court building with unanimous adoption of ‘Islamabad Declaration 2013’.

The chief justice said the government completed its five-year constitutional term since there was an independent judiciary to guard against any unconstitutional steps. “Today there is no one to give extension to usurpers.”

He proudly said that the judiciary in recent years had successfully emerged as the third pillar of state and a saviour and a protector of constitutional supremacy and fundamental rights. It has played a pivotal role in eradication of oppression and injustice, and ensured rights to the people, he said.

The chief justice expressed the hope that with increased support of stakeholders and confidence of people, the independence of judiciary would be further strengthened. Saying that judiciary in Pakistan was fully cognizant of the ever rising hopes of people in the judicial institution, he assured that it would continue to uphold the rule of law.

“We strongly believe that the judiciary must not take on the colour of whatever may be popular at the moment rather we are guardian of the rights, and we have to tell people things they often do not like to hear,” he reasoned.

He said adherence to constitutional norms of equality before law and protection of law by the apex court in all its verdicts has curtailed the arbitrary actions and excesses of other state institutions and private individuals, besides curbing to a great extent the social evils of corruption, abduction, forced disappearances, target killings, terrorism and violation of human rights.

“However, complete solution to these social evils is impossible without active participation and coordination of all stakeholders in discharging their constitutional duties of maintaining peace, establishing rule of law.” These social evils need to be uprooted through a collaborative and conjunctive effort before they completely erode the social fabric, he stressed.

Earlier, introducing the basic theme of conference, “No virtue is greater than justice”, he stressed that justice was a master virtue that brings harmony and peace amongst individuals as well as nations. He said that an independent judiciary plays a pivotal role in eradicating tyranny and oppression, and establishing a just and fair social order in society, essential for growth, development and prosperity.

“It guides us to live a happy and contented life based on principles of equality and fairness. Undoubtedly, judiciary has a primary role in promoting rule of law and all authorities and institutions have to render auxiliary support and cooperation in the administration of justice and execution of the judicial process.”

He also homed in the fact that Executive and Legislature share equal responsibility to achieve the object of independence of judiciary. “If such an environment is created where all three organs (of state) perform their functions while remaining within their prescribed spheres, it would provide a stable and predictable environment, facilitating the judiciary to enforce the fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed under the constitution,” he said.

“A civilized society understands and values the importance of independence of judiciary; however, it is rather an ongoing effort in which different targets are to be set and achieved, different stages are to be crossed and different levels are to be attained, till we achieve the ultimate objective of independence and impartiality of judiciary.”

Representatives from 21 countries attended the conference including India‚ Egypt‚ Iran‚ Iraq‚ Afghanistan‚ Libya and Britain. Participants of the conference urged for joint efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the society. The conference recommended that all states should respect and protect human rights irrespective of region‚ ethnicity or nationality. It also called for strengthening cooperation among states at the regional and international levels in order to deal with international crimes.

The CJ announced the judicial declaration unanimously adopted by the nine thematic groups, all with different topics. He said though all the groups had different topics yet they were all well connected with this year’s theme of the conference – No virtue is greater than Justice.

“The basic idea of organising this conference was to involve all the stakeholders in the dispensation of justice to share their experiences, knowledge and perceptions on critical issues being faced by the justice system. I am keenly looking forward to the recommendations of each of the Working Group, which will be placed before the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee for follow up action, which I am sure, would certainly contribute to further improve the judicial administration of the country,” he added.

The CJ briefly presented the recommendations presented by the nine groups which, he said, were adopted as the Islamabad Declaration 2013.