Judicial relevance

Daily: Daily Times
Date: 21.02.18

With the launching of judicial activism after rupturing the one year of quiet observed since
15 December 2017, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Justice Saqib Nisar is out in the
field to establish relevance. The challenge is that the people are getting irrelevant to the
higher judiciary. In the age of populism, whether embodied in insignificance or triviality,
irrelevance is demise.

Fundamental rights is a beguiling term masking lame excuses of every sort. Justice Saqib
Nisar has laid his focus on those areas, such as hospitals, falling plumb under the purview
of the executive. Everyone wants to champion other’s cause. Justice Saqib Nisar is
deliberately overlooking the problems the people face in the judicial realm. He has never
replied to the people’s complaints against the judiciary, but he is keen to offer relief to

On 15.02.2018, heading a bench of the Supreme Court, Justice Saqib Nisar heard a set of
petitions challenging the Elections Act of 2017. As reported in the media, when Advocate
Salman Akram Raja quoted a legal precedent established by an Indian court, Justice Saqib
Nisar replied, “This is not India, so don’t quote their legal examples here. They never quote
our laws.” This statement alone is a shock to the people who kept on complaining about the
absence of any complaint cell at the high courts. When asked, the administration of high
courts used to reply that there was no precedent in the world that high courts established a
complaint cell for receiving complaints of the litigants (both petitioners and respondents)
against the functioning of the judiciary.

The LHC can be taken as a case study. At the LHC, notwithstanding all claims of reforming
and upgrading the high court, there is present no formal complaint cell to receive
complaints against the problems being faced by litigants. During the tenure of outgoing
Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, a repulsive policy was adopted and the litigants were
discouraged to file a complaint with the office of the Chief Justice. If a complainant knocked
at the door of the secretary to the chief justice, his both personal assistants, Muhammad
Anwar and Syed Jawad, were committed to dispiriting the complainant from filing any
complaint under one ruse or another. This is how the fundamental right of the people to
register their grievances were violated, the same fundamental rights now considered dear
by Justice Saqib Nisar.

During the tenure of Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, there was active another kind of machinery
at the LHC to discourage a complainant, whenever a complaint was filed with the office of
the Registrar LHC or with his subordinate ladder. To intimidate and vilify the complainant
leaving his contact number on the complaint, the staff of the LHC used mostly two mobile
cell numbers. One such number was this: 03004900902. The practice continued in violation
of the rights of the litigants to file a complaint – the same fundamental rights that are
cherished by Justice Saqib Nisar. The intimidation and vilification were used to penalize the
complainant for filing the complaint and discouraging the complainant from reporting any
invidious act again to anyone at the LHC.

During the tenure of Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, there was an odious practice of “left over” of
cases in the courts of most judges. The “left over” flung a jinx on every litigant visiting the
LHC for seeking justice. The litigants had to wait standing outside the court for the calling of
their cases, for instance from 8am to 11am till the time the judges left the courtroom for
their appearance at the double bench (called DB) in some other courtroom. The judges
never returned from DB and all the cases were declared “left over” by the court staff of the
judges. The “left over” cases were sent back to the petition branch for a next date of
hearing which would be decided either by the staff of the same court or by the petition
branch. The practice of “left over” protected by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah promoted two
trends at the LHC. First, the working hour of such judges shortened to almost three hours
per working day for their regular courts. Second, the court staff of the judges were
empowered to call or not to call any case for a hearing. The litigants who did not grease the
palm of the court staff of the judges observed their cases appearing on the cause list
displayed outside the courts but never called for a hearing, as their cases were subjected
to “left over” on each date of hearing. The potential of “left over” was to keep a case
lingering on for years showing on paper the efficiency of the LHC but practically without
yielding any result.

Any litigant filing a complaint against the practice of “left over” with the office of Justice
Mansoor Ali Shah, who was the chief justice of the LHC, found his case decided against him
by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah. In such a scenario, with a loser, the option to file an appeal
was open as a legal remedy but the cost of the appeal was to pay a hefty fee as a penalty
(ranging from seventy thousand to one hundred thousand rupees) to arrange a lawyer to
appear before the DB for a case of an average importance. A choice with a litigant
remained three. First, let the case linger on under the coercion of “left over”. Second, bribe
the court staff to call the case for a hearing. Third, arrange funds for a lawyer’s fee as a
penalty to take the case to the appeal stage. This was how the LHC dealt with the complaint
filing challenge posed by the people, thereby demeaning the same fundamental rights now
valued and touted by Justice Saqib Nisar.  

In short, Justice Saqib Nisar’s judicial activism in the guise of protecting fundamental rights
of the people is to dupe them into believing that judiciary is still relevant to them. In fact, it is

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