LAHORE: Amid slogans of ‘rule of law’, chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said here on Saturday that constitutionally he was still the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other judges, who had not taken oath under the PCO, were also the constitutional judges of the superior courts.
Enough is enough, the people now want the rule of law, declared the deposed chief justice.
Addressing the lawyers’ convention, he said the Supreme Court had no authority to validate the November 3 unconstitutional steps of the dictator, who had himself admitted during an interview with a foreign news service that his PCO was illegal and imposed martial law.
The caravan of the deposed chief justice took about nine hours to reach the venue of the convention. People from all walks of life came out to welcome the deposed chief justice.
Justice Iftikhar stressed the need for justice for all in the country.
When the members of the National Assembly were told by the former speaker that they had been taking oath under pre-November 2 Constitution, Iftikhar questioned, then how could the Supreme Court validate extra-constitutional steps of the former dictator? He said the judges validated the illegal steps of the dictator only to save their jobs.
He also questioned the establishment of the Islamabad High Court, saying that all such steps were illegal which were taken under the PCO that had not yet been validated by parliament and the masses.
The convention was also addressed by deposed judge of the Supreme Court Justice Khalil Ramday, President Supreme Court Bar Association Ali Ahmad Kurd, Aitzaz Ahsan, Latif Afridi, Khwaja Sharif and others.
“In the past the superior judiciary and parliament validated all illegal steps of former dictators, but it was November 3, 2007, when seven judges of the Supreme Court suspended the illegal PCO of the dictator,” Justice Iftikhar said. He regretted some PCO judges validated all illegal acts of the dictator only to save their jobs.
He said the Supreme Court allowed the dictator to amend the Constitution after the October 1999 coup and parliament passed the 17th Amendment, but at that time the dictator had not confessed that he had taken any illegal steps. But now, he added, the dictator had himself admitted all his unconstitutional acts.
Iftikhar said that the dictators had inserted amendments of their own choice to the 1973 Constitution. Similarly the 17th Amendment was passed through parliament. Some people had been talking about repealing it through the 18th amendment, he added.
He said the people of Pakistan respect you (the lawyers) because you have struggled hard for the rule of law. Unfortunately, the history of this country, extended over the long journey of 60 years, has seen many dictators tampering with the constitution and being protected by the courts, which resulted in failure of the rule of law.
He said the lawyers’ movement has helped improve the image of Pakistan among nations abroad and he himself has met many people who believed that the people of Pakistan too want the sovereignty of the judiciary in Pakistan.
He named 2009 as the year of young lawyers with their slogan “Rule of Law”.
He said it is the duty of the Supreme Court to make decisions in cases of fundamental rights. He said it is also the duty of the court to provide relief to the common people.
He regretted that dictators continued to pressurise the courts to make laws of their own choice.
He said the state was responsible for providing protection to the life and property of its citizens, which was only possible in the presence of an independent judiciary, whose members could take bold and popular decisions in the public interest.
Till November 3, 2007, no concrete efforts were made for an independent judiciary, he said. However, the lawyers movement had created hopes and awareness about a free judiciary among the masses. He said the lawyers movement was destined to succeed and there would be rule of law and justice for all after the restoration of a free and independent judiciary.
He said the country could progress only in the presence of independent judiciary.
The deposed chief justice also mentioned some public litigation cases, including Chak Shahzad farms, and said that the judiciary should provide justice to the poor under Article 9 of the Constitution. He said that all people whether they were poor or rich should be treated equally before the law.
The deposed CJ thanked the lawyers, workers, representatives of civil society, political activists and the organisers for arranging such a wonderful function.
Chaudhry Ifitkhar also awarded shields to those members of Punjab Bar Council (PBC) who have been participating the lawyers’ movement.
Khalil Ramday in his address said that he was so clear and determined about the cause of the independence of the judiciary that he would stand by the lawyers even if he is given a hundred lives by God Almighty.
Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif said respect and honour are of immense value for him and he could not compromise for worldly gains. He said members of his family, by the grace of God, are as steadfast as he himself for the just cause of the lawyers’ community.
Aitzaz Ahsan said the rulers must see the light before March 9 that may prove a decisive day.
Ali Ahmad Kurd was forced by the participants of the convention to announce that the March 9 sit-in will continue until Justice Iftikhar is restored as chief justice of Pakistan.
Moayyed Jafri and Sajid Bashir add: Earlier, deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was accorded a warm welcome by lawyers, political parties’ leaders and civil society members on his arrival in Lahore.
Iftikhar Chaudhry arrived at the airport at 12:30pm amid tight security and was received by Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood Ahmed, Supreme Court Bar Association President Ali Ahmed Kurd, former SCBA president Ch Aitzaz Ahsan and deposed Supreme Court judge, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah reached Lahore with the deposed chief justice. Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry held a brief meeting with them at the AIIA VIP lounge, discussed with them the lawyers’ movement and offered thanks for such an auspicious welcome.
As soon as the arrival of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was announced at the AIIA, workers of the PML-N, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and Khaksar Tehrik, amongst others, ran out of patience and tried to breach the arrival terminal boundary to enter the lounge. The airport authorities announced and advised them not to violate the boundaries specified; however, the excited supporters continued their ambitious strive to get inside the passengers lounge, forcing the Airport Security Force to baton-charge the workers and leaders including Hamza Shahbaz, MPA Rana Tajamal, MPA Yasir Mughal, and MPA Navid Anjum.
Ali Ahmed Kurd told the media that the lawyers’ movement had entered its third and final phase and is getting stronger. He said the deposed chief justice is a symbol of justice and truth and the government should reinstate him along with the November 2, 2008, judiciary. Kurd said the lawyers’ movement has been peaceful all through its course but might resort to a different approach if the government rejected their demands.
Ch Aitzaz said the Charter of Democracy clearly delineates what the government should do and the current government was also a part of this movement which played a vital role in dethroning dictatorship. Aitzaz warned that it would be wise for government to restore the November 2 judiciary before the long-march of March 9.
Iftikhar Chaudhry’s caravan left the airport at 1:30pm in a bullet-proof car and under strict security measures throughout the route of his caravan to the Lahore Bar.
I am CJ According to constitution: CJP Iftikhar.
LAHORE: Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said that he is still the Chief Justice of Pakistan according to the constitution of the country no matter anyone acclaim or not and Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday is the Judge of Supreme Court even today.
Addressing the lawyers’ convention in Lahore he said unfortunately, the history of this country, extended over the long journey of sixty years, has seen many dictators tampering with the constitution and being protected by courts, which resulted in failure of rule of law in country. He said that the lawyers’ movement has helped improve the image of Pakistan globally. He named 2009 being the year of young lawyers with the slogan “Rule of Law”.
Deposed justice of Supreme Court Justice Khalil Ramday said the movement would meet its logic end like all other similar movements. This movement will meet success at every cost, he hoped. The real motive of this movement was formulation of independent of judiciary, he added. Deposed Chief Justice Lahore High Court Khawaja Muhammad Sharif said judiciary is equally responsible along with the politicians and dictators for the collapse of the country.