Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Halo around the judiciary fades

This article from Anita Joshua in the Hindu mentions Yasser Latif Hamdani, owner of YLH&Co:
Some of the halo around the judiciary – that harks back to the lawyers’ movement for the reinstatement of judges removed by Gen. Musharraf — has faded in recent weeks with the Chief Justice’s son, Arsalan Chaudhry, being accused of taking millions from a property tycoon for influencing cases. More than the accusations, the manner in which the Court handled that case has dented its image.
Writing in The News, lawyer Babar Sattar said the judiciary had “squandered a vital opportunity to salvage its reputation as a neutral arbiter of the law” with its judgment in the case.
The court’s decision to disqualify Mr. Gilani has also drawn its fair share of criticism, not out of any love or appreciation for the PPP-led dispensation but because of what it portends for Pakistan’s fledgling democracy.
Expressing disappointment, The Dawn editorial said: “Legally there might have been a case against the Prime Minister, but it was best for the supreme judiciary not to have waded so deep into such obviously political waters.”
Questioning the decision to ask the Election Commission to notify Mr. Gilani’s disqualification instead of just referring the matter to it, The Dawn noted: “By doing so, it has both disrupted an existing democratic set-up and set a worrying precedent for the future.”
Ever critical of the judiciary for turning a blind eye to the plight of Ahmadis and extremism, Lahore-based lawyer Yasser Latif Hamdani wrote in his blog: “We are increasingly descending into a state which resembles the dystopia of Judge Dredd. It is now important to acknowledge that we are no longer a democracy but a judocracy, where the whim and will of an unelected presiding officer of the apex court has more power than 180 million people. Perhaps it is time to dispense with the pretence of parliament, prime minister and president and constitutionally empower the Chief Justice to act as all three….”
Earlier, Hamdani, who had participated in the movement for the Chief Justice’s restoration, had written an open letter to him urging him to step down given the allegations levelled against his son, saying “Ceaser’s wife is no longer above suspicion.”
He is not alone.
Many leading lights of the movement including Asma Jehangir and Munir Akram have spoken out even earlier about the manner in which Justice Chaudhry took up cases that were more about politics than contested points of law.

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