NEW YORK: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry received Honorary Membership of the New York City Bar Association on Monday.
President of the association Patricia Hynes presented a framed citation to Justice Iftikhar in recognition of his efforts to uphold the rule of law.
“This is a very proud moment for our association,” Ms Hynes told Justice Iftikhar. “We are proud to be your colleagues,” she said.
A large gathering of lawyers and other guests gave him a standing ovation.
Expressing his gratitude to members of the association, Justice Iftikhar said he had accepted the honour in the name of the people of Pakistan who have struggled against military dictatorship, tyranny and injustice.
“No democracy can survive without an independent judiciary. There can be no democracy without law. Lack of justice produces inequalities. Only independent judiciary can checkmate extremism”, he said.
“While parliament is sovereign, the courts too have a vital function,” he added.
He paid tribute to American lawyers for supporting the lawyers’ movement in Pakistan in their struggle to restore independence of judiciary. Pakistani lawyers, especially the young, have been in the forefront of the struggle.
Justice Iftikhar was introduced by US Judge Jed Rakoff who praised his courage in upholding the rule of law.
He recalled some of Justice Iftikhar’s important judgments, which went against the establishment, despite the pressures brought on him. He praised him for standing up to former president Pervez Musharraf so that the cause of justice was upheld, a stance that endeared him to the people.
Judge Rakoff narrated in detail the hardships Justice Iftikhar underwent after being ousted by Gen (retd) Musharraf and said he never gave up.
Justice Iftikhar is the eighth person to be conferred honorary membership by the New York City Bar.
Prior recipients include former Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist and former Chief Justice of India P.N. Bhagwati. Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Aitzaz Ahsan presented to the New York City Bar Association a crest on behalf of Pakistani lawyers as an expression of gratitude to New York’s lawyers community for their support.