LAHORE - In what appears to be a direct response to the ruling PML-N leaders’ ongoing campaign for the vote’s respect, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said on Saturday that the vote automatically gets respect when the masses get their fundamental rights.

Addressing a ceremony here, the CJP vowed that judiciary will continue to play its role in making sure that people get their right to a good life that includes right to quality health and education.

He said that only democratic system can exist in the country and no one could dare impose an undemocratic order here. He said that all the judges of the apex court would resign en bloc if martial law was imposed.

Earlier, during the court proceedings, the CJP ordered removal of Punjab University’s acting vice chancellor Dr Zakria Zakar for allotting varsity’s land to the government for construction of a grid station, and also summoned all members of the syndicate who had endorsed the decision.

In a separate case, he took exception to the appointment of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s former principal secretary Dr Syed Tauqir Shah as ambassador/permanent representative to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva and also summoned him on a date yet to be fixed.

Tauqir was given this assignment shortly after the Model Town killings, the matter on which the apex court has taken notice and ordered the lower court decide the case without any undue delay.

On the activity-packed day, the CJP also ordered withdrawal of unauthorised security to different people and gave two-day time to the Punjab Inspector General of Police to submit final report on the matter.

According to initial report submitted by IGP Arif Nawaz, a total of 4,610 police personnel have been withdrawn. The report said that 1,347 personnel were withdrawn from the politicians, 1,074 from civil administration/police officers, 626 from lower judiciary, 153 from media persons/houses, 39 from the lawyers, 296 from religious leaders/persons and 1,075 from different other persons.

The CJP, who was heading a two-member bench at the Supreme Court Lahore registry, also suspended the execution of Kanizan Bibi, a mentally-challenged woman who had been on the death row for last 27 years, and sought her medical examination report on a hearing to be held at Islamabad along with an identical matter of Imdad Ali, another schizophrenic death row prisoner.

During the proceedings, advocated Saiful Malook – the counsel for Christian woman Asia Bibi who was convicted in a blasphemy case – pleaded the bench for provision of security, saying he was receiving security threats. The court directed IGP to restore his security.

The CJP remarked, “Your [Asia’s] case has been fixed for hearing in next week.”

‘No martial law possible’

The chief justice also attended a ceremony in Lahore held in connection with 80th death anniversary of Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

In his address, the top judge said that the judges of the apex court cannot even think of anything like a judicial ‘martial law’ as there is no space for it in the Constitution.

He claimed that the judiciary was totally free and independent. He vowed that being ‘father of the institution’, he would not come under anyone’s pressure.

Justice Saqib said that seeing media people talking about judicial coup and martial law makes him wonder that who would [dare] impose martial law in the country. “There can only be democracy in Pakistan,” he asserted.

‘Real respect to vote’

Shedding light on the sanctity of the vote, the CJP said vote’s respect is linked to the provision of the fundamental rights to the citizens.

Pakistan, he said, is the result of continuous struggles and countless sacrifices and was not given as charity.

“Only democracy can prevail in Pakistan,” the CJP said.

The chief justice said making laws is the responsibility of the legislature and no laws in line with modern requirements had been added to the legal and constitutional framework of the country.

“Transfer of property, the law of land acquisition, and other laws are outdated. And, swift justice is expected from the judiciary amid this situation.”

He expressed serious concerns over the lack of basic facilities to the citizens in the country. He said had the Quaid-e-Azam been alive today the conditions of the country would have been significantly different.

The CJP said he was working for the people and asked if there was anything wrong in judiciary’s playing its due role in providing basic rights to the citizens.

Justice Saqib said that when they keep dealing with routine cases and then they are criticised for ignoring public interest issues but when they take up such cases, there’s hue and cry over it.

“I am the CJP of the masses and of the state!” said Justice Nisar, reiterating his determination to keep taking up cases of public importance.

“[This] country is a blessing. Those nations which don’t have a land of their own are very unfortunate,” the chief justice remarked. “How can anyone be ungrateful towards their own homeland?” he asked in wonder, and added, “We are present here because of this country.”

Health and education

Justice Nisar said that the life is linked with good health but whichever hospital he visited he found it lacking essential equipment like the MRI machine, ultrasound machine and other facilities. Many more lady doctors are required than are already serving at hospitals.

“As many as 1,300 medicines, supposed to be distributed freely in the hospitals, aren’t there,” he pointed out, and asked if one should think in this situation that the right to life was being given to the people.

He said the judges are fighting for the peoples’ rights and they have been visiting every court in the country to check its performance so that the right to justice is ensured.

The CJP also expressed displeasure over state of education and stressed that education was very important.

He said education was a basic right that this right must be given to every citizen. “Only education can empower them (people), so give it to them,” he said.

“As many as 6,000 schools in Balochistan are without basic facilities like drinking water and toilets,” the chief justice regretted. “Students there go to the fields to answer the call of nature,” he said, adding that the situation was not much better in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Who will provide all these facilities?” he questioned. The CJP said where the tax money was going if it was not being spent on education and health sectors.

The top judge remarked that education is the most important thing for any country to progress, and he expressed his regret while telling that 80 kanal area of Punjab University was being handed over to the government for a grid station.

“We [also] have to end the discrimination in school. It is the duty of the government to ensure all people have equal access to quality education,” he remarked.

PU land case

Hearing the University of the Punjab’s land case, the CJP asked acting VC Dr Zakria Zakar that on whose authority the 80 Kanal land was being given to the government. Justice Nisar also summoned the members of the syndicate for allowing the land sale.

He expressed wonder over the absence of a permanent VC for the past two years and asked what the reason of this delay was.

Addressing the syndicate, the top judge asked on whose order they gave away the university land. The court has been told that the land was allotted for the construction of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project, he further said.

The CJP on April 19 took suo motu notice of PU’s selling land to the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) and sought a report from the varsity administration within three days.

On April 14, an assistant professor of the Punjab University Dr Ammar Ali Jan said that his services were terminated by the administration because he highlighted the shady allocation of the varsity’s land.

Tauqir Shah

Over the appointment of Syed Tauqir Shah, the top court issued notice to the officer along with directives to Punjab chief secretary Zahid Saeed to submit the notification of his appointment at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

During hearing a suo motu case appointment of vice chancellors at the public sector medical universities, the CJP Nisar asked the chief secretary, “Where is Dr Tauqir Shah nowadays?”

The chief secretary replied that the federal government has appointed Mr Shah as permanent representative to the WTO in Geneva.

The court then asked an interesting question: “Where is Geneva located? The chief secretary replied it’s in Switzerland. “Isn’t it the same country where the ill-gotten money is kept?” the CJP further asked.

Justice Saqib then asked if he was really so brilliant that the government thought it fit to appoint him on foreign mission.

Provincial Health Minister Khwaja Salman Rafiq, who was also present in the court, said that sometimes it becomes necessary to live abroad.

The CJP observed that they would see how much transparent his foreign posting was, adding that the officer had enjoyed a lot during his posting at the chief minister secretariat.

The bench ordered establishment secretary to submit record of Tauqir’s appointment and issued a notice to be served to him through Pakistan embassy in Switzerland.




Appointment of medical universities VCs

In a separate case about appointment of vice chancellors of medical universities, Ayesha Hamid advocate, the court-appointed commission, said that a newly made search committee for Nishtar Medical University Multan had recommended three names for the post of vice chancellor which would soon be sent to the chief minister for the selection of one of them.

She said that recently appointed VC Dr Zafar Tanvir tendered his resignation in the light of the court’s observation.

She said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had imposed ban on fresh appointments due to which a new appointment had not been made so far. At this, the CJP directed the commission to submit the relevant notification so that the court could examine it on Sunday (today).

Regarding King Edward Medical University, Dr Amir Aziz, who was convener of the relevant search committee, said that the vacant slot of the vice chancellor would be filled within two weeks.

The CJP directed to form new search committees for Fatima Jinnah Medical University, Faisalabad Medical University and Rawalpindi Medical University for appointment of VCs afresh.

The chief justice also expressed concern over the process of the appointments when Ayesha Hamid said that regular VCs had been appointed at these three universities during October 2017.

He summoned Rawalpindi University’s VC for Sunday (today) to explain his position regarding making new search committees for the fresh appointments. The VCs of the FJMU and FMU were present there in the court.