HYDERABAD DECCAN (Online) - Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that the rule of law has a substantial impact on the economic development across the globe, while a strong constitutional and legal framework is all the more necessary to establish it. Delivering a key note address at the 17th Commonwealth Law Conference, the Chief Justice said: Government of law and not of men, is what is meant by phrase rule of law as laid down in an old document ie the Constitution of Massachusetts. He stressed that the constitution of a state being the supreme law keeps every organ of the state autonomous and independent, yet subject to certain limitations and restrictions, but at the same time, ensures supremacy of the law, which is essential for economic development of a country. He expressed his hope that in the present conference, the participation of judiciary and legal fraternity, will serve like a beacon for those who stand for human rights and rule of law in society, including the investors, financers and traders, who play a vital role in the economic development of a country. Constitutionalism and rule of law, blended with an independent judiciary, ensure amicable solution of their problems in accordance with law. The constitutionalism and rule of law guarantee enforcement of human rights and thus help flourish industrial and commercial activities, he added. He highlighted the rule of law and equality before law as being the hallmark of Islamic thought and philosophy, which derives its authority from the Holy Quran and traditions of the Prophet. He quoted the last sermon of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. The CJP cited examples of pious caliphs of early Islamic period who would appear before the judicial authorities and the Qazis, making no distinction between the ruler and the ruled while dispensing justice. He also cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, aimed at protecting these rights and setting out guidelines for the member states to formulate policies and prescribing standards for securing these rights. The two international covenants ie International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966, further obligate the member states to take concrete measures in making these rights available to its citizens as well as foreign nationals on its soil. Many constitutions of the world are inspired by the Universal Declaration and the two international covenants, including the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which has given necessary powers to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to protect the fundamental rights. He informed that the Constitution of Pakistan, in its very Preamble, obligates the state to ensure that the independence of the judiciary is fully secured. Furthermore, Article 175 mandates that the judiciary shall be separated from the executive. In line with the constitutional provisions, the Supreme Court has, over the years, strived to make the judiciary truly independent, impartial and autonomous, so as to withstand undue influence, pressure or inducement from the executive and dispense justice fairly to all people. He cited many instances of suo motu notices in ordinary cases and some high profile cases of human rights violations, stressing that the judiciary, as a matter of fact, has jurisdiction over all matters of justiciable nature. Being an institution of the highest value in a society, the judiciary has to work impartially, without being influenced directly or indirectly by the whims of other institutions or partisan interests. And this image of judiciary is necessary because the judiciary not only decides cases and settles disputes but also enforces the fundamental rights and freedoms, guaranteed to citizens, he added. He also deliberated on different phases, the judiciary of Pakistan has passed through, where efforts by adopting unconstitutional measures were made, but the judiciary ensured its independence in all the circumstances because it is of the opinion that when there is constitutionalism and rule of law, it guarantees a democratic system in the country instead of military rule. He stressed if a country is ruled by the chosen representatives under the dispensation of the constitution, then the system of good governance is strengthened. The existence of an independent judiciary is all the more necessary for the enforcement of fundamental rights, trade and commercial activities in accordance with law and constitution. He said when the Proclamation of Emergency was promulgated on Nov 3, 2007 in Pakistan, the judiciary which had achieved its independence recently, asserted itself for the first time in the history of the country and declared those measures unconstitutional and illegal in its landmark order on the same day. Transparency and accountability of the judicial institution indeed contribute towards establishing judicial independence. It generates an increased flow of information from the judiciary to the society, thus informing the public about its performance and to notice its shortcomings. It also diminishes the margins for corruption and arbitrariness in the behaviour of judicial system. It opens up the gates of public input, thus resulting in the reformation and prospects of improved institutional impact of judicial decisions. The importance of rule of law, transparency and accountability of the system is highlighted by the Prophet of Islam stating that, 'Whether they like it or not, it is obligatory on the faithful to listen and to obey their rulers except when they be ordered to commit a sin. If they are ordered so, they should neither listen nor obey. The judiciary has to safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens including the right to live, liberty with its wide connotation and right to property. The courts have attempted to restore and enhance the confidence of all people including the local business class and foreign investors in the system of governance in the country. The enforcement of fundamental rights and establishment of rule of law have an inextricable nexus with judicial independence. The prime duty of the protection of the rights of citizens lies upon the important judicial organ of the state. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, being the apex court, has always strived to provide justice to the citizens at the grassroots level. He concluded his speech with the observation that it was in the interest of every country, region and indeed the whole world - both developing and the developed - to uphold the principle of rule of law, transparency and accountability not only in the affairs related to the domestic administration but in the international arena as well. He also cautioned that not paying attention to other segments of the programme which included constitutionalism, human rights, rule of law, corporate and commercial law, judiciary and legal profession, and contemporary legal issues would render the conference deficient in its essential aspects, on account of their vital role they play in the present day scenario. The Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) is a professional association of lawyers from across the commonwealth whose aim is to ensure an independent and efficient legal profession to serve the people of the Commonwealth in addition to protecting and safeguarding respect for the rule of law.