In order to record their protest, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Thursday announced that they would boycott the traditional farewell dinners in honour of the outgoing Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial.
The top judge 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.
In his note to the outgoing CJP, PBC Vice Chairman Haroon-ul-Rasheed said: “The PBC will not attend the farewell dinner as a protest.”
Giving the reason, Rasheed said that though judges were hosting the farewell dinner in honour of CJP Bandial, the top judge had refused to take the “full court reference”.
Declaring the PCB a “regulatory body” of the lawyers, he also said: “The PCB points out the judicial flaws and merits in the full court reference.”
Criticising the outgoing CJP, he also said that over 60,000 cases were pending in the Supreme Court, adding that no transparent procedure was adopted to end the backlog of cases.
“The CJP never met the representatives of the PBC despite repeated requests,” Rasheed added.
The judges, he said, should not issue such remarks at the beginning of a case that tells about the decision.
The PBC vice chairman also termed the appointment of a government officer against the post of registrar as a violation of the “constitution”.
Three sessions judges and two senior judges have been appointed in the top court on deputation for the past five years, he said, adding that the judges were not returned despite the completion of the deputation period.
He also expressed concerns over the process of constitution benches and the fixation of cases. He also stressed the need for issuing a “detailed verdict”.
SCBA hosts farewell dinner
A day earlier, outgoing CJP Bandial had 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 had said while addressing a dinner hosted in his honour by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).
The farewell dinner was attended by a larger number of lawyers and all Supreme Court judges except Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.
While reflecting on his career, the chief justice had said that he was retiring and the 20-year relationship that he had with the judiciary would no longer be the same.
CJP Bandial had further said that the apex 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 had added, had not fought their cases “brilliantly” then they would have never been able to make “such decisions”.
CJP Bandial urges lawyers to unite
In his address, CJP Bandial had 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 had said. He had also prayed that all matters in the country were settled through the Constitution.
The CJP had 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 had suggested November 6 for the holding of polls in a letter to the chief election commissioner (CEC). The president had 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 had said, “No one should have a suspicion that Supreme Court judges are not independent.” He had 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 had added.
On the other hand, SCBA President Abid Zuberi had 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 had also taken 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 had 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 had also thanked the outgoing chief justice for his “exemplary” attitude towards his community and solving their problems.
The SCBA president had said that 220 million people in the country had high hopes for the judiciary and the lawyers amid the gloomy situation in the country.