Wednesday, January 20, 2021
BREAKING NEWS
Home » National » Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk speech at full court reference

Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk speech at full court reference

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Ads.

Please go to the plugin admin page to set up your ad code.

 cjp_fullcourtref

Full Court Reference for His Lordship late Hon’ble Mr. Justice Saleem Akhtar

Ladies and Gentlemen!

This Full Court Reference is being held today in the wake of the sad demise of His Lordship Hon’ble late Mr. Justice Saleem Akhtar. Having lived a life of service to the causes of law and provision of justice in Pakistan, he departed from this world on the 29th of November, 2014.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

          Humans exist in a delicate relation with nature, arising from nature and then returning to it to complete the cycle of life. Death as a part of this circle of life should not be mourned but instead should be meditated upon as a chance for the soul to achieve peace and cosmic elation, having lived a life of justice with nature through self-effacement.

When I look back at the life and jurisprudential contributions of Justice Saleem Akhtar, I see a firm believer and practitioner of Justice whose soul in death transcended to immutable peace. Perhaps it was for the likes of Justice Akhtar that a sage of the East had said:

“He who does and help in the doing of Justice/ by such deeds indeed/ He illuminates his heart, soul and the world/ like the moon freed from clouds”

Ladies and Gentlemen!

          Justice Akhtar started his legal career as an advocate of the lower courts in 1956 and was elevated as judge of the Sindh High Court in 1980. As Chairman of the Provincial Review Board in 1985, constituted under Article 10 of the Constitution, he reviewed the cases of several political detenus who were under detention for several years. He ordered their release to ensure the Constitutionally protected right of speech and participation in political process by the citizens of Pakistan. His contributions towards improving the standards of academia in Pakistan as a nominated member of the Karachi University Syndicate and as member of Board of Governors of the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi are well recognized. Additionally he pioneered work in the field of Pakistani Admiralty Law in an international publication titled ‘Maritime Law’.

He was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court in 1991 and retired in 1997, after which he served as Director General, Sindh Judicial Academy and provided yeoman’s service to enhance the capacities of the provincial Judiciary. As the first Federal Tax Ombudsman of Pakistan he strove to provide inexpensive and speedy justice to the taxpayers aggrieved by tax maladministration.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

          Justice is not just about the commonly held notion of correcting historical wrongs, but this idea also subsumes the obligation to protect future generations from irresponsible actions of the present generation. The truth of this adage is no better seen than in the environmental debacle facing the future of human civilization. The contemporary globalized world and economy is modernizing, producing waste and exploiting global natural resources at such an unsustainable pace that it is creating unprecedented risks for the survival of future generations.

          Justice Akhtar was among the few who realized the responsibility cast upon the Judiciary to tame the disaster brewing due to the avarice of modern man, driven by the greed of profit. It was as early as 1994, that in the landmark case of Shehla Zia and others v. WAPDA (PLD 1994 SC 693), Justice Akhtar gave recognition to the “Precautionary Principle” developed in International Environmental Law, for protection of environment for the future generations. Dr. Parvez Hassan, in his article titled “Shehla Zia v. WAPDA: Ten years later” (PLD 2005 Journal 48) praised it for its innovative and creative contributions to the environmental jurisprudence in Pakistan by noting, and I quote:

“The Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Shehla Zia case broke new ground: in an unprecedented judgment, it declared that the fundamental rights to life and dignity guaranteed by the Constitution, in fact, include and cover the right to a clean and healthy environment. This innovative interpretation of the rights to life and dignity has been the most salutary development in Pakistan” (unquote)

          The Shehla Zia (supra) judgment has had multi-faceted effects upon the jurisprudence for environmental protection in Pakistan. It has laid the foundation of Public Interest Litigation for protection of environment by recognizing, in the words of Justice Akhtar, that, “[e]nvironment is an international problem having no frontiers creating trans-boundary effects. In this field every nation has to cooperate and contribute…” His Lordship not only broadened the Right to Life contained in Article 9 of the Constitution to include Right to a clean environment, but also started a public debate about environment with a single judgment, which to quote Dr. Parvez Hassan (ibid), “… the lawmakers and the executive leadership of the country were not able to do over the course of several decades…” (unquote)

In laying down ‘Precautionary Principle’, His Lordship was of the opinion that environment friendly measures should be adopted without waiting for conclusive inductive-scientific findings as, and I quote:

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Ads.

Please go to the plugin admin page to set up your ad code.

“[I]t may take ages to find it out and, therefore, measures should be taken to avert any possible danger …” (unquote)

          In the Khewra Mines case (1994 SCMR 2061) His Lordship declared, through the interpretation of Article 9, that “[t]he right, to have unpolluted water is the right of every person wherever he lives.” Further, in Human Rights Case (Environmental Pollution in Balochistan) (PLD 1994 SC 102) he declared the acquisition of land in the coastal regions of Balochistan, for conversion into nuclear and industrial waste dumping ground, as violative of Article 9, the Right to Life.

          Ladies and Gentlemen!

          Fidelity to the Constitutionally provided fundamental rights as ensnared in the Shehla Zia case (supra) was the current of thought which strung the jurisprudence of his Lordship, a continuous struggle to preserve, protect and promote the rights enshrined in and the spirit of the Constitution. In Governemnt of Balochistan v. Azizullah Memon (PLD 1993 SC 341) Justice Akhtar struck down the tribal law of criminal prosecution applicable in certain parts of Balochistan, on the touchstone of fundamental rights and independence of the judiciary.

I will quote briefly from this judgment, which abridges exhaustively his jurisprudence of vindicating the sighless masses through protection of fundamental rights:

“The right of access to justice … means that every citizen should have equal opportunity and right to approach the Courts without any discrimination… Even in such cases where special Tribunals are constituted, arbitrary powers cannot be conferred on executive… Such special Tribunals and Courts must follow the ordinary rules of justice, equality and good conscience. In fact the administration of justice cannot be made subject to or controlled by the executive authorities.”

Ladies and Gentleman!

          Constitution as embodiment of the “Will of the People” contains multiple layers of meaning and it is the task of a judge to bear out the meaning most relevant to the contemporary times through interpretation. It is an onerous task through which Constitution as an “Organic” document is kept relevant to the changing times as a “Living” document. His Lordship explained these principles which should guide every interpretation undertaken of the Constitution in the case of Azizullah Memon (ibid), and I quote:

“The interpretation of Constitution attracts most of the principles employed in interpreting the statutes, but care has to be taken that it is not restrictive, pedantic or limited. Unlike other enactments the Constitution is a living document which portrays the aspirations and genius of the people and aims at creating progress, peace, welfare and amity among the citizens and the nations abroad… therefore, it has to be interpreted in such a manner to keep it alive and to make it blossom in every atmosphere and in every situation.”

          Justice Akhtar in his Constitutional interpretations achieved a fine balance between normatively desirable interpretations to keep the Constitution a ‘living document’, while maintaining a high degree of fidelity to the text. In Kaniz Fatima v. Wali Muhamad (PLD 1993 SC 901), His Lordship resolved the intricate problem of testing the vires of law upon the touchstone of “Objectives Resolution”, incorporated into the Constitution through Article 2A. Relying upon the earlier case of Hakim Khan (PLD 1992 SC 595), he denuded Article 2-A of the “supra-Constitutional” status granted to it by close to 39 conflicting judgments till then.

          His concurring note in the case of Mian Nawaz Sharif v. President of Pakistan (PLD 1993 SC 473) is vindication of Constitutional democracy in Pakistan, wherein he had laid down principles for a viable democracy for social, political and economic development of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

His Lordship’s jurisprudence bespeaks of a “great judge”. The works and thoughts of this great jurist shall be the guiding lamp for every activist working towards achieving social justice through the establishment and permeation of Constitutionalism in Pakistan. He tried to do away with “procedural trappings and restrictions, preconditions of being an aggrieved person and other similar technical objection” in Shehla Zia (supra) while protecting the fundamental rights and independence of the judiciary as in Azizullah Memon (supra). Venerated as the first “green judge” of Pakistan, Justice Akhtar’s jurisprudence shall outlive him, guiding us in our search for social justice and perpetual peace

Ladies and Gentlemen, paying final farewell is always a daunting task. Perhaps no words can fill the void in our hearts left by the sad demise of Justice Saleem Akhtar. But let us melt our pain into memories and memories into prayers for the bereaved, and strive to walk in the light of the lamps he has lit for us through his jurisprudence.

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Ads.

Please go to the plugin admin page to set up your ad code.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

BIGTheme.net • Free Website Templates - Downlaod Full Themes