By Muhammad Ahmad Noorani
Politicians, lawyers and the civil society believe that restoration without Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will be meaningless; it will be yet another assault on the independence of judiciary and will further destabilise the situation in the country.
Different members of civil society say, “The real issue is that of Justice Iftikhar.” They add that the whole establishment is trying to get rid of the deposed Chief Justice, right from the March 9, and the act of packing the superior judiciary of the country on Nov 3 was also aimed at achieving this objective. “How can the nation give up the fight for independence of judiciary just to save a few individuals from accountability,” asked a leader of the lawyers.
“The stance taken by the judges of superior judiciary on Nov 3 and their refusal to bow before dictatorship was a principled one for the independence of judiciary and supremacy of law and constitution,” Athar Min Allah told The News. He said that minus one formula was a bid to keep out the CJ and no one including more than ninety per cent of the deposed judges is ready to accept it. Athar said that nation will accept the restoration only if it is made strictly in accordance with the Murree Declaration signed by ruling coalition on March 9, 2008.
Aitzaz Ahsan President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has told this correspondent many a time that Musharraf Camp had approached him after Nov 3 when he was imprisoned in Adyala Jail and offered the restoration of all the judges sacked on November 3 except four (Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Justice Tariq Pervez and Justice Sabihuddin Ahmad). Aitzaz had said that after his categorical rejection of any such deal, the Musharraf camp kept on offering the restoration of all the deposed judges on the Nov 2 position but excluding Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Talking to The News Aitzaz said that if the lawyers’ movement and the nation had to accept such restoration (the minus one formula), it sould have accepted it when he (Aitzaz) was in Adyala Jail.
Federal Education Minister Ahsan Iqbal told The News Friday that by restoration PML-N and the civil society means the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and all his brother judges. He said that the movement for the supremacy of constitution in the country was started with the defiant ‘No’ of Justice Chaudhry on March 9 last. Ahsan said that nation and deposed judges will never accept any restoration without Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the movement for the restoration will strengthen more if someone tried to exclude Iftikhar Chaudhry.
Senior PPP leader and member of Central Executive Committee (CEC) Dr Israr Shah told The News that his party has rendered sacrifices for Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry more than anyone else, during the movement of restoration of judiciary. He said that all the deposed judges including Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will be restored soon and no minus one formula will be implemented. Israr reminded that martyred chairperson of PPP Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had announced in front of the Judicial Colony on November 10, 2007 that Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is her Chief Justice and that PPP will reverse all the unconstitutional steps of Nov 3 taken by the General (R) Musharraf by restoring all the deposed judges. Israr said that she had also promised the nation that PPP will itself hoist the flag of Pakistan on the official residence of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Israr said that PPP will fulfil all its promises and will hoist the flag of Pakistan on the residence of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to fulfil the announcement of its martyred chairperson.