Memo is no SC business
December 09, 2011
The judiciary is once again moving towards judicial activism by taking up issues which neither pertain to the public nor affect it directly rather these are of political nature like the memo scandal which fall within the purview of parliament. The people are losing their confidence in the judiciary, which they had at the time of its restoration.
The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the memo scandal has raised many an eyebrow, as parliament was the appropriate forum to discuss and resolve the issue. The opposition parties, which brought this issue to the court, should also think that they have a reasonable representation in parliament and they could discuss it on the floor of the House. Rather than moving the court. This is not the right time for political point-scoring. If they want democracy to sustain, they should strengthen parliament, the only forum elected by the people of Pakistan.
Judicial activism would be detrimental to the national interest. The Supreme Court should value the importance of parliament and the executive. If we look at the past, such adventures always damaged democracy creating serious challenges to the country. The best course of action is that all state institutions should work within their domain as prescribed by the Constitution.
The country is once again at a critical juncture where it can’t afford confrontation between the state institutions; therefore, the court should take care and move forward carefully as the country’s current situation demands. If all institutions including parliament, the judiciary, the executive and the military function in their constitutional domain, the country can benefit from democracy. But if anyone of them, especially the judiciary, started interfering in the others’ affairs then the people might not get justice.
The common man feels that the superior judiciary is not interested in solving their problems rather it is focusing on those matters which don’t affect him directly. When the judiciary was restored, with the help of lawyers, the media, public and political forces, people had pinned a lot of expectations from it. However, with the passage of time, their hopes are fading away as no suo motu action is being taken on issues like inflation and dearness, misuse of power, load shedding, mounting fuel prices, load shedding of CNG supply, unemployment, unavailability of drinking water, open violation of merit, closing of important roads in different cities in the name of security, slow pace of development projects, and even drone attacks in which hundred of citizens have so far been killed.
Thousands of cases are lying pending with the courts throughout the country inconveniencing the litigants which undermines an old saying: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’. Such is the state of affairs that no decent person likes to go to lower courts for litigation. The reason is that the judicial system has rotted off, holding no hope for the litigants. There is no time like the present for the judiciary to address public problems.
The top court once took action on the high price of sugar but it brought no benefit to the public. Similarly, no one was punished on the charges of corruption and plundering the national wealth. The plight of public sector health care and educational institutions is no more hidden from anyone’s eyes but the court took no action on these matters, which are of much importance to the general public. Likewise, there was no development on the missing persons case.
The superior judiciary seems interested in cases not concerning the public interest. This gives the impression of judicial activism, as interference in the business of other pillars of state not only hinders progress, but also creates a lot of problems for the common man. The constitution of a commission to probe the memogate scandal by the Supreme Court is welcome but the court should also pay its attention towards addressing the public issues and mitigating the suffering of the people.
The people of Pakistan are already underprivileged and forced to live in state of destitute, as almost half of the population lives below the poverty line. About one third people even don’t have access to safe water. Similarly, the politicians as well as the bureaucracy also exploit the people. The judiciary should guard the basic rights of the people but it seems there is no one in the country to prevent the misuse of authority. People think the court is the guardian of their rights.
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has also criticized the Supreme Court. The Central Free Legal Aid Committee of Pakistan Bar Council passed a resolution stating that parliament is the only competent forum to take decisions with regard to political affairs.
Muhammad Ramzan Chaudhry, Chairman Central Free Legal Aid Committee of the PCB, has drawn the attention of learned members of the Supreme Court towards the prevailing situation with reference to the memo case and apprised them that being the apex body of the legal fraternity, the Pakistan Bar Council cannot shut its eyes to the situation wherein one institution is encroaching upon the powers of other institutions.
On the occasion, Mohammad Ahsan Bhoon, learned Member pointed out and apprised the Members about the statement of Former President Supreme Court Bar Council Asma Jahangir expressing her views very fairly regarding memogate case also stating that the Courts should refrain from taking upon political matters so as to de-politicize themselves.