Wednesday, September 13, 2023
ISLAMABAD: Amid reports of a divided Supreme Court, outgoing Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial has said that the only difference that exists among the judges is whether constitutional cases be heard directly in the apex court or not.
“Judges only disagree on whether constitutional cases should come directly to the Supreme Court or not. There is no contradiction amongst us on constitutional principles,” the top judge said while addressing a dinner hosted in his honour by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Wednesday.
The farewell dinner for CJP Bandial was attended by a larger number of lawyers and all Supreme Court judges except Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.
CJP Bandial is set to retire from his office on September 16 upon reaching the age of superannuation. His successor senior puisne Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa will step into his shoes on September 17.
While reflecting on his career, the chief justice said that he was retiring and the 20-year relationship that he had with the judiciary would no longer be the same.
CJP Bandial further said that the Supreme Court and the judiciary is the guardian of the Constitution, adding that during his tenure, people came to demand rights on “new constitutional points”.
At the same time, he also thanked all the judges who sat with him to hear cases and give verdicts.
If the lawyers, he added, had not fought their cases “brilliantly” then they would have never been able to make “such decisions”.
In his address, CJP Bandial also urged the SCBA and other high court bar associations of the country to “unite”.
The outgoing chief justice went on to say that the number of cases being heard in the Supreme Court increased due to other cases. He added that they do not want “other cases” to come before them again and again.
“We want the situation in the country to become balanced so that these cases do not come before us,” CJP Bandial said. He also prayed that all matters in the country were settled through the Constitution.
The CJP also questioned why there was confusion in the country when the Constitution makes it clear that elections be held within 90 days.
The top judge's remarks come hours after President Arif Alvi suggested November 6 for the holding of polls in a letter to the chief election commissioner (CEC). The president also said that in the light of Article 48(5) of the Constitution, he has the authority and mandate “to appoint a date not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution [of assemblies], for holding of a general election to the assembly.”
CJP Bandial further said, “No one should have a suspicion that Supreme Court judges are not independent.” He added that he was among one of the few judges who rejoined the judiciary while taking part in the movement for the restoration of the judiciary.
“I am last of the dinosaurs,” he added.
On the other hand, SCBA President Abid Zuberi recalled that the outgoing chief justice had a lot of challenges during his tenure and lauded his efforts. He also thanked CJP Bandial on behalf of his organisation.
He also took a snipe at the top judge by saying “Good to see you” to all those present at the dinner and promised that his address would be “short and sweet”.
Zuberi used those words as CJP Bandial was heavily criticised after he said “Good to see you” after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was brought to his court a day after his arrest on May 9. CJP Bandial had also stated multiple times that he would issue “short and sweet” judgments.
The lawyer also thanked the outgoing chief justice for his “exemplary” attitude towards his community and solving their problems.
The SCBA president also said that 220 million people in the country had high hopes for the judiciary and the lawyers amid the gloomy situation in the country.