ISLAMABAD: Chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Saturday said that a strong bar, backing of political parties and support of the common people was necessary to ensure the independence of the judiciary in the country.
He said it was the sole factor, the absence of which made the military adventurers draw legitimacy from the courts in 1958, 1977 and 1999.
He expressed these views while speaking at an oath-taking ceremony held under the aegis of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) in Rawalpindi, where he administered oath to the newly-elected office-bearers of about 20 district bars of Rawalpindi.
The chief justice said that it was the backing of the people which made a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court able to give a verdict against martial law on November 2, 2007.
He said the bar and the bench used to be a cordial part of each other and if there was no strong bar, the bench would also succumb to external pressures.
“I congratulate the nation that after 60 years of its life, it has reached the conclusion that the establishment of an independent judiciary and the rule of law is a prerequisite for prosperity of the country,” he said.
“On March 13, when I came out of my house all alone, I could not perceive that public in great number would come to support me, as it is done today. It was public support that helped my restoration as chief justice on July 20 and we will not let this cause down, we will carry on with it,” he added.
When the people would be ensured that their rights would not be hurt by anyone powerful enough, the country would prosper, he said.
Quoting from his professional career, he said he never succumbed to any pressure in any case.
It was the judiciary which gave protection to the members of legislative assemblies as well, he added.
On the occasion, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Ali Ahmad Kurd said he had already marked his place in front of the Parliament House, where he had to stage a sit-in.
Kurd also recommended to other lawyers to mark their places.
The lawyers cheered Kurd’s presence among them and shouted anti-government slogans on this occasion.
Former SCBA president Aitzaz Ahsan said some people were talking about filing a case against him, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Munir A Malik for inciting the people to violence, which resulted in the killing of a number of people on May 12, 2007.
“We are ready to face such a case, but the case should also be filed against those who showed their fists while saying that these lawyers invited the rage of the people by going into their city,” Aitzaz said.
He condemned what was going on in the troubled Swat valley and vowed that when Iftikhar Chaudhry would be reinstated as the chief justice, they would go to Swat and establish court there.
The former SCBA president said the state had to revise its policies.
Aitzaz said the March 16 sit-in would be a far greater challenge that needed to be organised at the macro level with multiple things to be taken into consideration.
There would be several hurdles that the lawyers would have to clear, Aitzaz said.
He mentioned that a minister had threatened Mukhtaran Mai to withdraw her case.
Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, another deposed judge of the Lahore High Court, urged Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani to exercise his powers as the chief executive of the country and restore the deposed judges.
Ejaz Afzal, a deposed judge of the Peshawar High Court, in his address said the lawyers’ movement was unprecedented in the history of the world.
It was neither “A” nor “B” but it was the historical “No” of deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry which proved to be a catalyst of change for the national history, he said.
“Reinstatement is not important for us, what is important is that the judiciary of tomorrow should be free from all pressures,” he added.
The lawyers’ National Coordination Committee Chairman Hamid Khan said the lawyers’ sit-in had two main objectives: restoration of the deposed judges and sacking of the sitting judges.
Pervez Musharraf should have been punished for his crimes instead of giving him an honourable send off with a guard of honour, he said.
The lawyers on the occasion vowed to uphold the supremacy of law and to strive for the independence of judiciary.
They also pledged to work for the preservation and implementation of the 1973 Constitution.
The oath-taking ceremony was attended by over 2,000 lawyers and participants, who came from across the country.