Former acting CJP demands restoration of pre-Nov 3 judiciary

Says, by his own admittance, Musharraf’s Nov. 3 action was extra-constitutional. Terms Musharraf “de facto” ruler.

TORONTO, Canada: Former Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Justice  Rana Bhagwandas, on Wednesday night, said he was positive about the restoration of Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhri and his colleagues, deposed by President Musharraf’s emergency rule on November 3, 2007.

Delivering a lecture to a large gathering at the University of Toronto on “the Independence of the Judiciary and its importance for democracy in Pakistan,” – organized by the Sindhi Association of North America’s GTA Chapter – Justice Bhagwandas said that by his own admittance before the media, President Musharraf, who he termed “de facto ruler and self-styled president,” had taken an extra-constitutiona l step by declaring emergency in the country and removing the CJP and several other superior judges, adding that this action was in fear of a negative verdict by the Supreme Court on a petition challenging Musharraf’s eligibility to run for presidential elections as he was the COAS and hence a public servant.

Justice Bhagwandas praised the efforts of Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhri to uphold the independence of judiciary. He said, “in the recent past, when the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan were grossly trampled, the right to freedom of expression, human liberties free from undue interference and right of association were unlawfully disturbed and illegal restrictions were imposed on the media, the superior judiciary in Pakistan being the custodian of the Constitution and basic human rights and liberties of the common man and guaranteeing the fundamental rights of the people, under the stewardship of Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhri became actively responsive.” He said the judiciary’s suo moto actions were taken in the public interest and to ensure compliance of the laws of the land and not on any whims or due to judicial activism. The executive’s role in suppressing the superior judicial, he sid, was shameful.

Justice Bhagwandas said that the deposed judges would have to be restored with full past benefits. The independence of the judiciary, he pointed out, was essential to the economic, social and political welfare of the country. In the absence of a strong and independent judiciary, he held, investors were moving their money to Dubai and elsewhere.

On judicial reforms, Justice Bhagwandas said that the legal education system required updating and improvement; training of judges of the subordinate judiciary was also very necessary, adding that it was the responsibility of the legislature to initiate judicial reforms.

To a question whether or not the present PPP government woul restore the deposed judges, Justice Bhagwandas evaded giving a political statement and just said the judges will be eventually restored. However, to another question, he did express disappointment with the present government’s nonchalance in addressing this critical issue. Answering another question on PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Zardari’s statement in an interview that Justice Iftikhar Chaudhri had delayed attending to his case, Justice Bhagwandas said that that was not the whole truth!

Among the audience were a large number of students, businessmen and members of the media including Anis Farooqui of Voice of Toronto and Adil Rashdi as well as prominent intellectual and member of the Pan

Canada journalists’ forum, Munir Pervaiz. The President of SANA GTA, Mr. Kolachi welcomed Justice Bhagwandas while Farooq Shaikh and Maqsood A. Soomro gave the introduction and conclusion addresses respectively.

Courtesy: Voice of Toronto

Source – http://www.voiceoftoronto.com/

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