In fiery speech Chief Justice Gulzar slams critics, insists judges operating freely

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LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Saturday appeared to lose his patience at sustained allegations of partiality against the judiciary — stressing in a heated speech that his court has never accepted pressure from anyone, nor will it ever do so.

Addressing an event in Lahore held in memory of the late human rights activist and trailblazing lawyer Asma Jahangir, the chief justice made it clear that allegations that the judiciary was being influenced by powerful quarters do not sit well with him.

Responding to a speech by veteran lawyer Ali Ahmed Kurd, in which Kurd had accused the courts of not working independently, the top judge lashed back: “I have never [taken dictation from] any institution and have never been under pressure from anyone.”

“No one has ever told me what judgement I need to hand down and no one has dared to dictate me on my orders,” the country’s top judge said.

“No matter how many cases have come before me, I have never made a decision at the behest of anyone,” he said.

“No one has interfered in my work — I have made my decisions according to my understanding and as per the Constitution and law.”

Seemingly making an indirect reference to the recent controversy involving former chief justice Saqib Nisar and ex-chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim, CJP Gulzar Ahmed said, “I have not taken anyone’s dictation till today and my fellow judges follow the same conduct. No one can say that I have taken dictation.”

The visibly angry judge insisted that the courts have been working according to the law and that Supreme Court judges have been striving to serve justice to the people.

All the judges of the Supreme Court are working very hard and diligently, putting in extra time and effort for dispensation of justice, the rule of law and the Constitution, the prosperity of our democratic nation, and for the supremacy of justice, the top judge said.

He noted that judges of the Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Sindh and Balochistan High Courts are all diligently administering justice.

“The lower judiciary also hears cases on a daily basis and gives decisions in accordance with the law,” he said.

“When decisions are handed down, some people say they are right and some say they are wrong. These are the people’s opinions and they have the right to hold them. Everyone has their own opinion and perspective, and it must be respected.”

“This is the beauty of the judiciary and democracy and we will follow it,” he said. “Nobody can dare stop us.”

However, differences of opinion do not allow any party to accuse the courts of being under pressure, the country’s top judge underlined.

“Our court is free to take decisions and it does what it wants freely. Our court hears each party to a case and holds them accountable,” he added.

“Ali Ahmad Kurd sahib, come to the courts and see what is happening. Read the decisions taken by the courts,” the chief justice said.

“The judges in my courts author verdicts daily and these are published in books. Take a look at them, read them,” he urged the lawyer.

“Tell us which decision was taken on someone’s dictation — it simply isn’t so, so stop creating these misgivings among the people,” he warned.

“Do not misguide the people, do not spread chaos, do not shake people’s trust in the [state’s] institutions,” he continued in his sharp rebuke.

“There is rule of law in Pakistan, not some individual’s. We will continue to work the way we have been.

“We will support and promote the Constitution, law and democracy in the country and we will not accept any undemocratic setup. We will quit [if forced to do so] and we have done this before.

“That should be enough for today,” he concluded.

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