The Invisible Justice

(Askari Raza, )

Justice is the jugular vein of a society. It must exist with all its sinews and made visible with all its transparency. If justice delayed is justice denied, justice invisible is justice wasted, faded away into oblivion. Nebulous concepts like ‘justice at your doorsteps’, clutter the rhetoric.Across-the-board justice remains a dream unfulfilled.

Unfortunately, the present system of justice in Pakistan has largely failed to deliver.

The Caliph enters the supreme court along with the petitioner. The Chief Justice rises from his seat to pay respect to the most powerful ruler of his time. Th Caliph sacks the judge. A judge who makes distinction between a caliph and an ordinary citizen is incapable of delivering justice.The same Caliph when challenged by an old woman in the famous ‘Chadder and shirt episode’, he on the spot provided evidence to clarify his position. The history proudly recorded the message for the posterity. The Caliph is as accountable as his subjects. Another true Caliph loses his case against a Jew citizen because his son’s evidence is not admissible in the law. He does not employ his goons to attack the supreme court to prove that the chief executive was always right. That was the State of Madina we aspire for.

An official servant is required to declare his property along with that of his wife and children. This is repeated time and again during his service. It is to ensure that all changes in the family’s wealth status are regularly accounted for. As the head of the family, he is answerable for the riches accumulated by him or any other member of his family. It appears that the rule does not apply to the honourable judiciary. If so, the anomaly needs to be removed immediately like the irksome extension of the military chiefs.

In the past the rulers applied a simple yardstick to judge the conduct of the government servants. If over a period of time an official had accumulated more wealth than his means justified, he was punished for corruption. In Pakistan, this criterion, though often talked about, seems to have little value. Here the children of a three-time prime minister become billionaires without having earned a penny of their own. The father instead of being grilled to furnish the money-trailis facilitated by lawto abscond abroad.

In the promotion board when a member’s relative comes up for consideration, he leaves the room. It is not just a matter of protocol.It is intended to establish the credibility and transparency of the board. When the going gets tough, merit becomes a sine qua non. Injustice does not hurt an individual. God compensates him. But every act of injustice, small or big creates a corresponding hole in the ship of the nation. The Prophet (PBUH) had warned that nations stronger and richer than us were destroyed because they were not just.

In Pakistan the son of a serving chief justice is repeatedly accused of a number of irregularities from out of turn promotions to outright corruption until the case becomes too obvious to ignore. The chief justice, who ‘portrayed himself as an honest broker’ in a corruption ridden Pakistan, despite being cautioned to the contrary choses to chair the bench appointed to decide his son’s case. The son is proved innocent. The conscience of the father also remains clear.Happy ending.

A provincial high court assembles on the weekend to grant bail to Shahbaz Sharif. It was not the first time that a court was held on a holiday, the court contended. It must be normal for the courts to work on the weekends to attend to similar compelling urgencies. His elder brother was allowed by the court to instantly proceed abroad for treatment that has yet to commence. Who will get him back? The court had done its part of the job. The ball is now in the government’s court.

On social media a picture gone recently viral shows the images of those fortunate Pakistanis who had justice delivered practicallyon their doorstep. This includes the royals of Sharif dynasty, PML-N stalwarts like Rana Sanaullah and many holy figures from Sindh. Good luck to them. The barbaric drama staged in Model Town Lahore can wait. No Chief Justice has ever taken a suomoto notice of this brutality. It has been perhaps left for God to punish the culprits.

The handling of the latest case of Justice Isa by the Supreme Court did not do much to boast public confidence in the judicial system they have known to be full of faults. The presidential reference was quashed which according to the defender was based on melafide intentions. This contention of the defender was never discussed, proved or rejected.However, the refence was set aside as the defender had wished. At the same time the showcausenotice issued by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to Justice Faiz Isa was also quashed. According to senior legal analysts, the court exceeded its limit by interfering in the functioning of SJC. It was a prerogative of the SJC to admit or dismiss the reference. A justice was as much accountable as an ordinary citizen, we were told but not exactly. He was not responsible for the wealth accumulated by his family. He had the right to make a thrilling entry into the courtroom and seek to defend his family. The Court had the patience to stop the government lawyer in his tracks to accommodate the intruding justice. The poor mortals can hardly hide their shock.

The courts should be and are completely free. The Constitution must,however, clearly define inter-institutional functional boundaries. Without this balance we will live in perpetual confusion.

The Supreme Court, in keeping with its best traditions, must have also done justice in all the episodes alluded to above.Unfortunately, the justice has remained invisible.

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