ISLAMABAD: In an odd line, lawyers demanding a bulletproof car for former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry said that they were pursuing the case for the independence of judiciary and the rule of law. They also argued over the maintainability of the case, and legal standing before the court (locus standi) and why the ex-CJP himself did not come to the court for seeking relief in the matter.
The arguments and remarks in Wednesday’s hearing were not confined to legalese, as the bench, comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq posed several intriguing questions to lawyer Sheikh Ahsanuddin throughout the hearing.
Ahsanuddin said that the former CJP still faced life threats for giving rulings in several high-profile cases, and that if security was not provided, it would have an impact on independence of judiciary. To this, Justice Qureshi asked how one would determine what cases are ‘high-profile’ and which are not, or which case was decided independently and which one was not.
“If I were to order the police to register a case against Musharraf today, would it be acceptable for me to demand security after retirement on the basis of that order,” Justice Qureshi remarked.
He added that every case was important.
“Is money a blessing or a curse,” Justice Qureshi asked Ahsanuddin.
“It’s a curse, sir,” the lawyer replied.
“How is it determined that it is a curse,” Justice Qureshi said, adding that only illegally-acquired money was a curse.
Who is safe in a country under threat?
On the question of maintainability, Ahsanuddin said that he, Taufiq Asif, and other lawyers were also parties in the anti-judiciary banners case as well as in the treason trial against Musharraf.
“It is on record that [lawyers] brought Article 6 to life,” Ahsanuddin said.
He argued that the ex-CJP was not personally seeking relief as under Article 207 (3) of the Constitution “a person who has held office as a permanent judge of the Supreme Court shall not plead or act in any court or before any authority in Pakistan.”
“Can a judge not become a complainant in a burglary case or if someone deprives him of his property,” Justice Qureshi asked.
He then explained that the restriction only meant that the retired SC judges could not practice law professionally, but they were still allowed to petition courts as an aggrieved party. Justice Qureshi then reminded that former CJP Abdul Hameed Dogar remained engaged in litigation at the IHC and the Supreme Court.
Ex-CJP equates his security needs with premier’s
To another argument, Justice Qureshi inquired, “If Musharraf and the ex-CJP form a political alliance in the future, as the heads of different political parties, would [Chaudhry] still require security?”
Among other arguments, Ahsanuddin said that the federation never raised the question of locus standi. “Neither in the writ petition nor in the intra-court appeal,” he said, “every act of the federation shows bias.”