A Golden Jubilee celebration of the promulgation of Pakistan’s Constitution was held in Pakistan’s Parliament on 10th April. Since the PTI members had resigned, only PDM members were present.
This celebration was really a farce and a melodrama. All speakers, including PM Shahbaz Sharif, spoke of upholding the Constitution, and a resolution was passed by the National Assembly swearing to protect the Constitution.
But this was done at the very time the PDM was determined to disregard and thumb nose at the Constitution, particularly Article 224(2) thereof, since they were adamant that no elections to the Punjab Assembly be held on 14th May, as ordered by the Pakistan Supreme Court, as they knew they would be routed at the polls. Funds for holding the elections have not been given by the Government to the Election Commission of Pakistan, despite a clear direction of the Supreme Court, on flimsy pretexts, and as a dilatory tactic
Particularly disturbing was the attendance in Parliament of Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the seniormost judge of Pakistan’s Supreme Court after the Chief Justice Bandial.
There is a long standing, well established, convention in the judiciary that judges should speak only through their judgments. Though in his speech Justice Isa did not say anything political, and only spoke of upholding the Constitution, why did he go there at all ? His very presence in Parliament was improper, particularly when all other judges of the Supreme Court, who had also been invited, refused to attend.
I was Chief Justice of 3 High Courts ( Allahabad, Madras, and Delhi ), and I would often tell my brother and sister judges that judges should be reclusive, and should not attend functions ( except family marriages, etc ). This is because of the nature of the functions which they perform. It is said that justice must not only be done, but also appear to be done. If judges are seen in social functions, their verdicts, even if correct, would be regarded tainted by the public.
In the present charged political atmosphere in Pakistan, and when there is a clear confrontation between the Supreme Court which is determined to uphold the Constitution, and the PDM Govt which is equally determined to flout it, what will the public think of judges who attend and speak in the PDM dominated Parliament ? Justice Isa should have thought of that before attending.
I remember when I was Chief Justice of Madras High Court ( 2004-2005 ) one day the Chief Secretary of the state came to my chamber and gave me an invitation from the Chief Minister Jayalalitha inviting me to the Republic Day parade on Marina Beach in which the Governor would take the salute.
I asked the Chief Secretary to convey my regrets to the Chief Minister, since as a matter of principle I never attended any functions ( except of the bar association ).