South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

LAHORE, Sept 9: Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has said the state is constitutionally bound to ensure peace and security for its people and rebuild institutions to boost economic growth and public confidence.

“It is prime duty of the government to take proper legislative measures for the enforcement of human and fundamental rights in order to bring peace and social tranquility,’ Justice Chaudhry said at the opening session of a three-day international conference titled ‘Justice for all and impunity for none’ under the aegis of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Lawyers from the UK, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Fiji and other regional countries were in attendance besides sitting
judges of the Supreme Court and the Lahore High Court.

Speaking on ‘People’s security and rule of law’, Justice Chaudhry said the constitution of Pakistan provided principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice in its preamble. He said judiciary no doubt was the ultimate protector of the rights of citizens, yet it was the work of the legislature to repeal outdated laws and do proper legislation to cope with the problem of human rights abuses.

He said the Supreme Court of Pakistan being cognizant of its role and duty had always come to the aid of suppressed segments of society. Suo motu action taken by the court in missing persons case resulted in the recovery of many. However, it was unfortunate that there was still no proper legislation to this effect, he added.

He lamented that everyday the number of forced disappearances was increasing, especially in Balochistan, and there were allegations of extrajudicial killings and mutilation of bodies. He pointed out that religious intolerance and sectarian tensions were rising day by day.

The chief justice said protection of human rights and civil liberties as recognised by the constitution was not possible without respect for the rule of law. The role of judiciary was not that of opposition to other organs of the state but it had to work in collaboration and cooperation with other organs to sort out ways in which human rights and civil liberties could be protected.

And the environment for the enforcement of these rights could be based only on a strong legal system after repeal of outdated laws and proper legislation to address contemporary human rights abuses.

Justice Chaudhry said the Indo-Pak subcontinent had its post-independence history of armed conflicts, tensed relations and periodic proclamations of emergency, mostly due to external threats or aggression and some time due to internal exigencies.

He said the judiciary in Pakistan always worked to safeguard individuals’ rights, personal liberty and freedom as guaranteed by the constitution.

He said the linchpin which ensured security for the people of any country was the application of twin principles of supremacy of the constitution and rule of law. “Undiluted adherence to the norms and principles of the constitution and practice of rule of law are keystones for all other requisites of democracy,” he added.

Earlier, paying tribute to Justice Chaudhry for his sacrifices, Supreme Court Bar Association president
Asma Jahangir called him Anna Hazare of Pakistan. She said her friends from the legal community of India asked her whether there was any brave person in Pakistan like Anna Hazare of India and “I said yes, our chief justice is Anna Hazare of our country”.

Ms Jahangir welcomed all foreign delegates, especially from the neighbouring country, and condemned the recent blast outside the Delhi High Court. She said people of India and Pakistan shared common history, but they should realise that they were separate identities and they had to develop relations without surrendering their national identities. She said lawyers played an exemplary role for the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution in Pakistan.

The SCBA president said Pakistani lawyers would not allow any dictator or executive to interfere in judiciary’s independence.

She, however, said the judiciary should take bar’s criticism positively, as it showed lawyers’ love and affection for the judiciary.

SCBA of India president P.H. Parekh and senior attorney of Sri Lanka J.C. Weliamuna also spoke on the occasion.

Source: Dawn – 10.09.2011