In an unprecedented move, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Saqib Nisar paid an official visit to Mayo Hospital in Lahore on Tuesday and reviewed the situation of healthcare being provided to patients- a job more suited for parliamentarians.
Pre-emptying the backlash from constitution loyalists who emphasis the separation of powers, Saqib Nisar clarified that he has no interest in becoming a leader, but he “would continue to provide masses with fundamental rights,” referring to Articles 199 and 184 of the Constitution which allow the courts to step in for the protection of fundamental rights.
Such an esteemed and experienced judge should know however, that just stating something does not make it to be so. There is a code of conduct and sensitivity surrounding the delicate issue of the division of the three institutions-inspecting a hospital, the job of a parliamentarian, is a political action. The judiciary is strictly limited to adjudication-a field which needs more work- and this step of reviewing healthcare, as well as the other series of action of review of government organisations, are proofs of Nisar’s foray into politics, and he cannot wish it away by refusing to call a spade by its name.
The CJP’s unwanted hand of help to the government may have been acceptable, had we not known that his own institution was poorly-run, and depriving justice. On the same day, Shahrukh Jatoi and three co-accused earlier convicted in the 2012 murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan were allowed to post bail. Despite the death penalty originally being upheld due to charges of terrorism, the Sindh High Court recently set it aside and ordered a retrial of the case in a Sessions court after a criminal review petition filed by Jatoi’s lawyer argued that terrorism charges should be dropped as the accused was a juvenile at the time of the offence. This overturn, on one of the most basic facts of law on juveniles, and the fact that this case from 2013 has not been concluded yet, show the inefficiency and miscarriage of justice that has become a habit with the Courts.
We thank the CJP for his generosity in reviewing Mayo Hospital’s conditions, but the urgent matter of mishaps, inefficiency and intimidation tactics in the Court, which ultimately ruin lives, is a more pressing and worthy matter of notice for the Chief Justice. The political sphere may have a lot of dirt, but if one truly wants change, he has to clean his own house first.