Mr Shakil Jafri editor of The Financial Daily asked me to reproduce as an article what I had written on CJ meeting Richard Holbrooke. With the intention to expand on these few paragraphs I chanced upon some reflections of a past judge which I added to my statement and am reproducing it below.
Members of the Judiciary are supposed to stay aloof from social and political contacts. In this context let me quote from a speech delivered by Justice Dorab Patel at the Cornelius Society in Lahore in 1995. Justice Patel was a dissenting judge in the Bhutto case and had refused to take oath on General Zia’s PCO. He states that the judiciary in Pakistan inherited from the long line of judges, British and Indian, traditions of service, of learning and scholarship, of integrity, financial and intellectual, and of social aloofness.
He cites an interesting story of the Supreme Court of Bombay. In some civil litigation, the bailiff of the Supreme Court went to the Governor’s House to serve a summons of the Court on a member of the Governor’s staff. He was threatened and ordered to leave. The same happened when the Chief Justice sent a very senior police officer along with the bailiff. The Chief Justice instead of meeting the Governor, which the latter wanted, locked the Supreme Court and returned to England where he lodged a complaint and resigned from office. His resignation was not in vain as never again did the Bombay Government treat any Judge in a casual manner. But the most valuable legacy of this clash with the Governor was that the Judges of Bombay continued the tradition of rigid aloofness of the Judiciary from the Executive. A judiciary cannot remain independent without this tradition.
Justice Dorab Patel continues to narrate, that when he became a Judge of the West Pakistan High Court, the Chief Justice of West Pakistan, Justice Wahiduddin Ahmed (father of Justice Wajeehuddin Ahmed) told him that he had to change his life and habits because he had become a Judge and it was his duty to lead a secluded life and to avoid meeting Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers and politicians which according to Justice Patel he tried his best to do.
I therefore insist that our Judiciary should reflect such long and cherished traditions without which it simply cannot remain independent.