Thursday, July 20, 2023

Ex-CJP Jillani to be presented with human rights award in US

This award to me is vindication for what I have stood for throughout my career, says former chief judge

Ex-CJP Tassaduq Hussain Jillani. — World Justice Project
Ex-CJP Tassaduq Hussain Jillani. — World Justice Project 

The former chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, is set to receive the 2023 ABA International Human Rights Award, a statement from the American Bar Association (ABA) announced recently.

The jurist has been selected for the prize in recognition of "his courageous judgments against political impunity in a time of crisis and for defending judicial independence" in Pakistan.

The award will be presented on August 5 at the ABA Annual Meeting in Denver, USA.

In conversation with, the judge — who penned the song "Justice for All!" — reflected on the accolade as a "vindication" for what he has stood for throughout his career.

"This award to me is vindication for what I have stood for throughout my career. It is vindication for what I hold to be true and just and vindication for [my] stand that the Constitution and its values should be lived by people," he said.

Known to be a "balanced" judge, Justice Jillani delivered key rulings of great significance on domestic and international concerns.

These include his judgments enforcing fundamental rights, gender equality, declaring the right to education a fundamental right, holding that in an age of globalised inter-dependence, dual nationality should be permitted, laying down guidelines for qualitative improvement in legal and medical education, both in the Lahore High Court and the apex court.

However, perhaps, the two rulings that brought him to the foreground were the right of an adult woman to marry a person of her choice in Islam and his landmark ruling on minority rights in 2014, after he took suo moto notice of the matter of the protection of minorities, following a blast in a church in Peshawar that claimed 81 lives.

When asked what inspired him to work for the promotion of justice, the former CJP, who comes from a family of civil servants, said: "Justice has been a major part of my life. Throughout my life and youth, [I was] involved in law, defending the rule of rule, and fighting for [people's] rights.

Our Constitution ordains rights inherent to people; this is how I trained in law and have promoted that through [my] judgments."

Referring to his two prominent judgements, he said: "Whenever I get the chance to speak, I would like to promote values I hold dear."

About his judgement on minority rights, which came just a month before his retirement, the ABA press release said: "His judgment not only resolves the thorny question of a potential conflict between Islamic and democratic ideals but also provides a way forward for a country that is committed to upholding Islamic values but can still provide a voice to its marginalised communities."

The revered judge reflected on the question of an increasingly radicalising youth in the country and said: "The world [today] is a globalised inter-dependant place. It is evolving with values we must live by, comprised of democracy, freedom, the rule of law, human rights and truth.

"Keeping the concept of ijtihad in mind, we can share the concept of 'enlightened Islam'," he said, adding that we can strike a balance in economic and social interactions.

An honourary chair for the World Justice Project, the former top court judge has received several accolades for his efforts to ensure Justice and the provision of fundamental human rights for all.

These include:

  • The "Key of the City of Detroit (Michigan)" by the Mayor at a function;
  • The 2020 J Clifford Wallace Award, presented by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society (JRCLS);
  • The International Justice Excellence Award by the International Institute for Justice Excellence (IIJE) in 2019;
  • The "Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters" at a special Convocation held at Southern Virginia University, Washington, on October 12, 2007;
  • The ABA '2008 Rule of Law Award' on behalf of those Judges of Pakistan who demonstrated courage in upholding the 'Rule of Law' in the country;
  • The Hague Conference has appointed him as the Co-Chair of the Working Party on Mediation in Family International Law;
  • 'Justice for All' (the theme song sung at the 50th Anniversary of the Supreme Court of Pakistan) penned down by Justice Jillani has been declared as the Judicial Anthem of Pakistan;
  • He was appointed as a member of the Hague International Judicial Network;
  • The Distinguished Formanite Award by the Forman Christians College University, Lahore in 2011.