Elite Pakistani Judiciary Unapproachable For Common Man

On 26 February 2014, the President and Members of the Managing Committee of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi hosted in the High Court Lawns what they described as a “Welcome Dinner” in the honour of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

The Honourable Chief Justice of Sindh Mr Justice Maqbool Baqar made a fine speech about constitutionalism and in making his point that Pakistan is undergoing a traumatic period in its history he went as far as quoting from the historic case of A & Ors v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UKHL 56.

Similarly, the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan followed his learned brother and he too made a fine speech about how Pakistan was under threat from Islamic extremism and how we needed to strengthen our resolve to get through hard times. He also made splendid remarks about how much him and his Court like exercising their constitutional jurisdiction and emphasised that the bench and bar together would bring justice and harmony to Pakistan (by upholding the fabled rule of law of course).

He also said rather fleetingly that the minorities’ rights should be protected.

What, may we please ask with the greatest of respect,  have their Lordships done about the persecution of the Ahmadis then?

Nothing it appears …

And this deceptive, misleading and misrepresentative write up in Dawn – SC empowered to intervene in public matters –  on what happened in the “Welcome Dinner” cannot conceal the honest truth. Fine words were spoken by the elite judiciary of Pakistan but in fact these pretty words lack substance.

Why?

In fighting for the little freedom that exists in this country today, we of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party have shed our sweat and blood without hesitation or expectation of reward.

In the High Court Dinner we sent our delegate (the President Karachi Division) with our greetings and warm regards to the learned judges. We also sent a proposal to modernise the way the law is recorded in Pakistan. We would have liked it if our proposal to lobby for a “Legal Institute of Pakistan” website (to achieve parity with Legal Institute of India, a free website following the phenomenal BAILII model which records all the decisions of the courts and interlinks them) had been heard.

But it was not to be: our proposal was never heard because some people from Sindh High Court Bar Association would not allow our representative access for 5 minutes to the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

How does the bench explain allowing individuals with well known criminal antecedents (but inexplicably enrolled as advocates of the High Court) to hover around it? They were not stopped from mingling with the senior judiciary but rather disgracefully seemed to be running the show.

But this is Pakistan (ye Pakistan hai): a corrupt and primitive country where there is no law. It is a disgraceful and pitiful place where honest advocates of lengthy standing representing public causes are not allowed to speak to the country’s senior most judicial figure (who claims to descend from the English legal system and speaks fondly about the House of Lords).

But the contradiction for the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani is that his words are hollow whereas the words of his beloved House of Lords are of great substance because its judges and the judges of its successor UK Supreme Court do actually take the time and trouble to meet everyone and don’t retreat to some VIP enclosure to talk to people of questionable character instead. Can there be a VIP area for justice? Does the judiciary also operate an exclusive domain for the very important thugs and cheats of this country?

And unlike the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan, the Gora (i.e. white) judges also don’t use the opportunity to be the Chief Guest to create media frenzy in relation to their colleague’s son’s book about the Constitution by describing him as “energetic advocate” and by singing his praises.

Overall the dinner hosted in the High Court Lawns by the President and Members of the Managing Committee of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi was a farce and it really cast serious doubts about the claims advanced by the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan and the Honourable Chief Justice of Sindh that they will somehow bring harmony to Galaxy Pakistan because they don’t even want to meet the members of their own bar; leave alone hear any proposals in respect of modernising/digitalising legal reporting which we might have.

We cannot say that we stand with the judiciary if it surrounds itself with thugs and crooks. They – i.e. the judiciary – did hang, or “judicially murder”, Bhutto and will never be able to wash their hands off his blood …

And more than the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, Pakistan’s greater challenge is that it has to save itself from endemic corruption. Of that there can be no doubt. But the bench failed to mention this point. If the point was made at all it was purely expressed as a rebuke to the country’s corrupt political elite: But what about corruption in the judiciary My Lords? Are you incapable of addressing that. Or are you just too well fed and blind to care about such things in your VIP Ivory Tower?

Sorry, but our country cannot be a dictatorship of the judiciary. With the greatest of respect that is unacceptable to us citizens of Pakistan; the Mazdoors and the Kissans. We fail to see why the learned and respected senior judiciary could not take the trouble to dedicate some time to answering some questions from a large and vibrant audience of advocates? In comparison, the senior judiciary in the UK or the US always allows some time for questions from the audience. This is only logical because if not why make a speech at all then?

We were very disappointed by the dinner hosted in the High Court Lawns by the President and Members of the Managing Committee of the Sindh High Court Bar Association in the honour of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

It was a Real Joke but at least the Chief Justice of Sindh Mr Justice Maqbool Baqar managed to mention A & Ors v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] UKHL 56. Or was he talking about A & Ors v. Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) [2005] UKHL 71?

Guess we will never know because the venal thugs of the Sindh High Court Bar Association would not let our workers, who are accomplished advocates of the Sindh Bar Council, to ask him which case he was in fact referring to? Our workers/members were abused and manhandled by the goons of the Sindh High Court Bar Association.

There is no justice in Pakistan and we at the bar would like to take this opportunity to inform the bench of this in our post today. Indeed we rely on our right to freedom of expression under the Constitution of Pakistan.

We are informed by advocates across the border in neighbouring India that their judiciary does in fact meet the common advocate of the local bar. Shame on our country where choori and badmaashi are the Order of the Day. Nevertheless, even for insulting our representative, we would like to thank the venal thugs of the Sindh High Court Bar Association for their lovely “Welcome Dinner”. Cheers for the invite.

The “Welcome Dinner” in the honour of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani was disgraceful and scandalous.

Grand words are not enough: the bench needs to show much more commitment to fighting corruption and nepotism rather than tolerating such vile behaviour and promoting it. Because it has a nexus with the Sindh High Court Bar Association (some elitist club claiming to be furthering the rights of the advocates of Sindh) rather than the Sindh Bar Council (the appropriate licensing authority for all provincial advocates), the senior judiciary was unapproachable for the common man on the day.

Fatehyab Ali Khan, Advocate High Court of Sindh

President, Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party

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