It is jolly decent of Mr Markandey Katju, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India, who obviously believes in the Latin maxim judicialis continentiam, to take so much interest in trying to solve the political and judicial crisis that is taking place in Pakistan and for attempting to preserve what passes for democracy in this country. In a recent article (“Two options before the Supreme Court”, July 19) on these pages, he has let our chief justice know that his options have now been narrowed down to two — both of which, the thinking man will agree, are equally unsavoury. The basic thrust of the three articles, written with immense enthusiasm and fortified with a battery of case histories, is that there is really no point in confrontation on the part of the chief justice, and considerable need for judicial restraint.
In other words, in the tug of war taking place between the legislature and the judiciary, their Lordships should stay on their side of the white line. They can give the occasional tug, but that is about all. To substantiate his point, he enlightened readers in this neck of the woods with quotations from those great jurists Felix Frankfurter and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Unfortunately, Mr Katju seems to have forgotten that he is writing about Pakistan and not the United States, and that it takes a very special kind of judicial creature to handle the kind of political situation that has evolved in this country.
Actually, the issue is much more complicated than what leader writers put across in their editorials. Mr Katju is an intelligent commentator and I am certain he knows the reasons behind the chief justice’s actions. Obviously, he can’t say so in his columns and so comes up with academic treatises that are brimming over with well-meant advice and good sense. However, it would be instructive to compare the styles of the two members of the Supreme Court bench by employing the Managerial Grid model (1964) of behavioural scientists Dr Robert R Blake and Dr Jane S Mouton whom I had the singular pleasure of meeting in Austin, Texas, in 1980. The grid equates a manager’s concern for production with his concern for personnel, and marks are given on the scale of one to nine. By this classification Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry would be a nine-one man while Justice Markandey Katju would be a five-five man.
The thinking man is on the side of the nine-one man who believes he is doing nothing more than interpreting and protecting the Constitution. After watching a cast of indefensibly shallow folk incinerate their own reputations, one loaded question that must have been asked by millions of Pakistanis and irked Their Lordships and opposition politicians has remained unanswered. And that is how did the current president amass such a huge fortune during the two premierships of his wife? The figure, allegedly, fluctuates between one and one and a half billion dollars, which is allegedly stashed away in banks in different parts of the world.
Nobody can predict how the confrontation will end. Whether unfettered democracy will survive and turn into a mild dictatorship or whether the chief justice will be successful in ensuring that the looted billions will be returned to the Fatherland, only time will tell. While the president continues to play his adversarial games, presiding over the most dire and grievous moments in peoples’ lives, the mood of the people is growing ugly.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.