Missing persons case: Justice Iqbal’s retirement a cause for concern

Litigants fear appointment of a new judge may delay cases.

Qaiser Zulfiqar June 26, 2011


Litigants whose cases are fixed for hearing by the bench headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, especially family members of missing persons, are right to be anxious about his retirement from the Supreme Court on August 1.

In a country where state institutions have witnessed a steady decline both in terms of the competence of core personnel and the quality of service they provide, people trust individuals, not the institutions they represent. There is the question of trust the petitioners repose in the judge. As family members of missing persons will testify, they have complete faith in Justice Javed Iqbal and believe he is the best choice for ensuring the recovery of their loved ones.

The missing persons’ case due to its sensitive nature may not proceed at the same pace since it is difficult to hold the police and secret agencies to account for forced disappearances, once Justice Javed Iqbal retires, said Amina Janjua, Chairperson Defence of Human Rights, while talking to The Express Tribune. “I hope after Justice Javed Iqbal’s retirement, the new judge actively pursues the case like him.” Janjua has requested Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to either give an extension to Justice Javed Iqbal till the missing persons’ case is decided or to take up the case himself. “We cannot afford to start from zero,” she said.

Dysfunctional secretary Port Qasim Authority (PQA) Abdul Jabbar Memon, who was practically jobless for several months for taking his case to the apex court, was appointed as a director in the National Institute of Labour Administration and Training on Justice Javed’s orders. Memon said he has great respect for Justice Javed Iqbal, because he worked hard and took personal interest in his case, due to which irregularities in PQA were highlighted.

Justice Javed Iqbal, the second senior most judge of the Supreme Court, is a close associate of the chief justice and actively supported the restoration of the judiciary. Justice Javed Iqbal was elevated as chief justice of Balochistan High Court in 2000. After two months, he was elevated to the Supreme Court. Last week the government appointed him as the president of the inquiry commission constituted to investigate the May 2 US incursion of Abbottabad.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2011.

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