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Perception Of Lopsided Accountability Is Dangerous For Constitutional Democracy: CJP

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, while pointing towards the growing perception of ‘lopsided accountability’, said on Wednesday that such a perception can prove dangerous for the country’ justice system.

While addressing a full court ceremony marking the start of a new judicial year at the Supreme Court (SC), the chief justice said, “As a relevant organ of the state, we also feel that the growing perception that the accountability process being currently pursued in the country is lopsided and is a part of political engineering is dangerous.”

It is necessary to take corrective measures urgently so that the process does not lose credibility in eyes of the public, he added.

Justice Khosa also said, “Recovery of stolen wealth of the citizenry is a noble cause and it must be legitimately and legally pursued where it is due, but if in the process the constitutional and legal morality of the society and the recognised standards of fairness and impartiality are compromised, then retrieval of the lost constitutional and legal morality may pose an even bigger challenge to the society at large in the future.”

He also shared the concern of bar associations regarding the shrinking political space in the governance of the state, saying that one cannot turn a blind eye towards such concerns.

“Ours is an important and independent state institution that is responsible for safeguarding the constitutional ethos of the country and we feel that such a loss of political space in the governance of the state may prove dangerous for the future of the country and its constitutional democracy.”

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While commenting on the reports of media censorship in the country, Justice Khosa said, “Reports of muzzling the print and electronic media and the clampdown on dissent are disturbing. It must be understood by all concerned that a voice suppressed or an opinion censored can create frustration, which in turn gives rise to discontentment. Such a situation can pose a serious risk for the democratic system.”

He said rights of citizens guaranteed by the constitution should never be compromised for the sake of short-term political or governance advantages.

Speaking in connection with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the CJP said, “It is mandated by the constitution to inquire into conduct of judges of the superior judiciary, and I must say that the job to be performed in that regard is the most unpleasant job that its chairman and members are to perform in their entire judicial careers. Nonetheless, it is a constitutional duty they cannot refuse to perform.”

He also informed that the constitution allowed the president to direct the council to inquire into the conduct of a sitting judge, saying that the council cannot disregard a constitutionally mandated order. He elaborated further by saying that such a direction does not control the opinion of the council during the course of the inquiry.

Meanwhile, Justice Khosa also pointed out that a section of the society was unhappy that the apex court was not taking suo motu action over important issues.

He said, “Any sou motu notice taken on the demand of somebody else may not be considered a suo motu and would be a contradiction in terms. This court shall take suo motu notice of a matter only when it deems it necessary and not when it is coaxed in that regard by outsiders.”

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