Court verdicts must be respected and accepted even if they are unfavourable, and the right to disagreement and criticism must not breach the norms of decency and decorum – especially by those who represent the State and those who are elected by the people. Such representatives of the State and the people are expected to lead by example and set standards by following rules and laws and siding with principles. The Western world is now matured enough to know how to react to legal judgments. Unfortunately though, in our society, court verdicts are only welcome as long as they favour you otherwise they are a product of bias, grudge, enmity, conspiracy and what not.
It was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s right to disagree – to the LHC verdict that led to Nawaz Sharif flying out of the country for medical treatment – but he was not expected to blurt out at a public forum. The PM’s remarks about the judiciary – during his scathing verbal assault on his political opponents at the opening of a motorway the other day – deserved to be met with a response. And thus, a rejoinder from the CJP himself. The top judge adopted a very polite tone to contradict, with facts and figures, the PM’s complaints about the “judiciary’s inability to treat the rich and the poor equally”. The honourable judge corrected the PM that it was he who had allowed the PML-N chief to leave the country, and the LHC only ruled on whether the government’s indemnity bond condition was lawful or not.
The fact is that the PM – trapped in his political rhetoric – was totally confused on whether to allow Nawaz, at the expense of his political capital, to go abroad for treatment or to block the exit of the ailing veteran politician at his very own risk. To enjoy the best of both, he attempted a way out, but that was ruled unlawful by the LHC. The option to move the Supreme Court rests with the PM if he really believes the LHC ruling has “augmented the impression of preferential treatment for the powerful”, but finding fault with the legal judgment in public only smacks of attempts at scapegoating others for personal weaknesses and failures.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2019.