KARACHI - Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Saturday said that the Supreme Court always worked in its domain but PCO judges had been manipulated by rulers for the perpetuation of their personal interests.

Speaking to a gathering of lawyers on their enrolment with the apex court at its Karachi Registry, he said judges, who took oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), had been declared illegal. It is unfortunate that it was the PCO judges that dealt a blow to the constitution in past. “Oath taking by PCO judges harmed the judiciary (as well),” he said.

The chief justice said that the apex court had always worked under its constitutional boundaries. But “in the past, rulers have made attempts to confiscate the Supreme Court’s constitutional position,“ however, the apex court fulfilled its constitutional obligations by declaring the actions of Nov 3, 2007 illegal.

Justice Chaudhry said it is the responsibility of lawyers and every citizen to protect the constitution and to obey the law. Pinning high hopes on young lawyers, he said, it was expected that they (lawyers) would prove to be the stalwarts of law and not its saboteurs. Commenting on the Lawyer Movement, he said the movement, which lawyers set in motion in the wake of Nov 3 decision, is still in progress. He said that lawyers struggled for restoration of democracy and supremacy of constitution.

In the ceremony, 23 lawyers were allowed to present in the Supreme Court which included one female lawyer and two lawyers from Balochistan. “We welcome the new lawyers. We have played our part of the innings; now, tomorrow belongs to you,” the CJ told the gathering, adding anyone of them can become the Chief Justice of Pakistan in future. Earlier, in meeting of building committee was chaired by the chief justice in which a briefing was given regarding judicial lockups and servant quarters.

Meanwhile the Chief Justice said that the judiciary is working within the ambit of the constitution.

The CJP said that it is clearly mentioned in the judgment of suo motu case on law and order in Karachi that provision of security to life and property is the responsibility of the government, but the concerned authorities have failed to fulfill their responsibilities.

He said that the environment is not conducive for judges as well as lawyers to work in Karachi. Referring to the target killing of some lawyers, he said the administration is not pursuing such cases properly.

He said the Supreme Court can take further action of its judgment is not fully followed

He said the people have expressed a lot of confidence on the judiciary after November 3, 2007 and “we all should live up to their expectations”. The CJP advised the lawyers to prepare sound cases and avoid seeking adjournments so that the cases could be decided as early as possible.

Meanwhile, the Chief Justice said that the process to fill vacant seats of judges at Sindh High Court is in process and hoped that it would be finalised soon. This he said at a meeting with representatives of Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi Bar Association, District Bar Associations of Hyderabad and Sanghar. The representatives of lawyers bodies apprised the CJP about the problems being faced by them in performing their professional work.

Referring to the shortage of judges, the Chief Justice said that the process for elevation has been initiated by the Chief Justice of SHC and subsequently the Judicial Commission has discussed the names for further process. He assured that necessary steps will be taken soon to increase the strength of the High Court. They also discussed with the CJP the issue of target killings of lawyers in Karachi and some other problems pertaining to administration of justice and dismissal of cases on technical grounds. The CJP assured to look into these problems and have them discussed and resolved at the proper forum.