Ward of the Court

Published: August 11, 2012
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The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co 
in Lahore 
saroop.ijaz@tribune.com.pk

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@tribune.com.pk

Finally, all of us can go to sleep in peace with the newly acquired knowledge that My Lord, the Chief Justice remains vigilant as ever to ensure that no vulgarity slips through the cracks on our television channels on his watch and the Pemra chief can no longer slack in his duties. My Lord, with customary wisdom, has observed that there are certain programmes and advertisements that one finds unbearable to watch alongside with the family. This exercise of the “paternal” jurisdiction of the court and the fact that the Chief Justice is a “family man” is infinitely comforting. It might be interesting to mention that My Lord is not always the brilliant, stoic, sober statesmanlike, paragon of justice and has a human, lighter side to his personality as well as indicated by his remarks in court that the parodies of politicians are in “good humour” and “are enjoyed”.

As we swoon in relief on the consolation of being under the eternal, paternal gaze of My Lord, one is also conscious of a slight unease. Dr Arsalan Iftikhar is hard to banish from the mind. The latest, although unconfirmed news report about Dr Arsalan using the address of the Chief Justice House for commercial purposes is unnerving to say the least. One sincerely hopes that the unconfirmed report is a complete fabrication. Nevertheless, many other questions still remain regarding the Young Doctor. What serious person has not indulged in some juvenile frolics behind their parents’ back at one time or another, however, Master Arsalan seems to have taken this mischievous streak of youthfulness well into his adulthood. Whatever other sterling virtues that he may possess, staying out of trouble is not one of them. The core of the infamous letter written in 2007, which later formed the substantial part of the chargesheet levelled against the Chief Justice pertained to him. No one, not even the malicious General (retd) Pervez Musharraf could find anything to accuse My Lord and it was only Dr Arsalan who proved to be the weak link.

The delinquent first-born male offspring has been the undoing of great men in history more times than by foreign armies or thousands protesting in the streets. Let us solemnly hope that this does not happen. There is one way to make sure of that, namely to put the case of Dr Arsalan on the fast track (like the NRO case, perhaps) and in full public light. I am convinced to a moral certainty that the Court is completely unbiased in this matter, yet even natural delays give rise to whispers and as My Lords will be well aware that whispers tend to damage the perception of neutrality. As a suggestion, this case can proceed on the same pace as the Prime Minister’s contempt case, Malik Riaz’s contempt case and the Ephedrine case. Our media does not seem to bring this up because of a fear of contempt. Master Arsalan, though deserving of our affection, is not protected by any laws of contempt. We, as a nation, are fairly generous in ascribing paternity/maternity to individuals, e.g., Dr Afia Siddiqui is “qaum ke beti”, I for the moment forget if Ajmal Kasab was a “qaum ka beta” or not. In any event, Dr Arsalan is not the “son of the judiciary”, he is an accused entitled to the presumption of innocence and not protected from fair questions. The treating of Dr Arsalan as a ward of the court should stop and would actually farther the objective of independence and more importantly the perception of neutrality of the Court. There is no allegation against My Lord and he, I am sure, has nothing to hide. I see no reason why his case should have any less attention or probing than Malik Riaz, Ali Musa Gilani or Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.

The Contempt of Court Act was not entirely thought through and perhaps, got the treatment it deserved. However, as always, the action on the periphery was more fascinating than the final verdict. My Lords began by inquiring into the motivation or the good faith of Parliament in passing that law. Surely, a mistake has been made, it would be naïve and discourteous to assume that My Lords would not be aware of the principle that no mala fide can be attributed to Parliament since it would be equal to attributing malice to the will of the people. Parliaments pass silly and unjust laws and some of those laws are sometimes rightly struck down by courts as being unconstitutional, yet the question of motive is not a relevant consideration. One of his Lordships then proceeded to comment on the conduct of the opposition and gave an admirable tutorial on how the opposition should not have walked out and protested inside Parliament. This came, from perhaps, the finest judge in the country and I am in no doubt that he was driven by the best of intentions and had the reformation of our parliamentary system at heart, yet a line was clearly crossed. The Court can declare laws as unconstitutional, hold people in contempt and hyper-technically, arguably send Prime Ministers home but what they cannot do is to instruct or demean the manner in which parliamentarians debate or choose not to debate matters in Parliament. That conduct is adjudged and weighed by the people.

With the amount of talk on the “independence” (useful to remember not interchangeable with “objectivity”) and contempt of the Judiciary, there is perhaps, a small case to be made for the independence of Parliament and how some things could be contemptuous to Parliament. All members of Parliament (government and opposition) should protest at this sermonising and infringement into their domain. It would be futile to complain much about the impending, inevitable contempt of court hearing of the Prime Minister as that seems to be settled but is it too much to ask that the case of Dr Arsalan, the Asghar Khan petition and the summoning of the DG FC also be accorded a fraction of the attention, I think not.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (38)

  • s shah
    Aug 11, 2012 - 10:34PM

    Brilliant! Kudos, Mr. Ijaz.

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  • Aug 11, 2012 - 10:41PM

    How can you say that reports about Baby Arsalan using his Loving Dad’s official address is unconfirmed? Baby in his own written statement says that it was so and has been changed ‘from January 2012″ i.e. much after Mr. Aitizaz Ahsan told Loving Dad about baby’s tantrums.

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  • Waqar
    Aug 11, 2012 - 10:57PM

    Just say the truth: both father and son are guilty and should be tossed in jail.

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  • Ejaaz
    Aug 11, 2012 - 11:13PM

    Arsalan should be promoted to the office of President and Prime Minister rolled into one. That should satisfy the Mi Laad.

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  • Lala Gee
    Aug 11, 2012 - 11:20PM

    @Author:

    I have a lot of respect for you due to your liberal thinking and writings concerning the plight of minorities, but often you try to lower that respect with your politically biased articles. I won’t go into details but I would suggest that you take utmost care while writing about the current judiciary which is the only hope of Pakistani nation and has the full backing and prayers of the whole nation except the criminals and the crooks. Please don’t let your political inclinations harm your image of otherwise an excellent writer.

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  • Parvez
    Aug 11, 2012 - 11:26PM

    You have as usual made some excellent points. On the point that parliamentarians conduct should be judged by the people, I feel you have lost your way a bit because history shows that once elected the parliamentarian forgets about the people until five years later when he goes back for their vote, this being a futile exercise. The people know that who ever they vote for the result will be the same because parliament has crystallised into a body for the well being of parliamentarians and not the people.
    So I ask what voice do the people really have ??l

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  • sidjeen
    Aug 11, 2012 - 11:31PM

    the situation of our dear CJ remind me of a great saying “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself turn into a villain. (Harvey Dent , the dark knight)”

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  • Imran
    Aug 11, 2012 - 11:47PM

    Excellent piece, I like they way you carefuly worded it so that someone important can listen to it. I think our beloved and most respected and most honorable CJP should know the time is up. We had enough of him and his brothers talks and no action since March 2007. Please Please let Pak breathe now. Country has many issues other than Letter to Swiss, even Swiss will one day say take $60 million and get to work now.

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  • elementary
    Aug 11, 2012 - 11:52PM

    Politically biased as usual.

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  • haroon ahmad
    Aug 12, 2012 - 12:18AM

    I would say this is one the boldest and truthful article I have read in any Pak newspaper about about judiciary. In one word, Brilliant!

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  • Silva
    Aug 12, 2012 - 12:33AM

    @ Lala Gee: ” I would suggest that you take utmost care while writing about the current judiciary which is the only hope of Pakistani nation and has the full backing and prayers of the whole nation except the criminals and the crooks”

    How can you claim this judiciary has full backing and prayers of the whole nation. Majority of the poople of Pakistan live in villagers where most the the people do not know who is chief justice of pakistan. Sadly everyone talks on behalf of 18 crore people here.

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  • Gul Bukhari
    Aug 12, 2012 - 12:42AM

    Maza aa gaya. As usual, great article!

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  • Logic europe
    Aug 12, 2012 - 1:49AM

    @ people whoate in astate of denile and those whohave no hope of returnong to power are tbe one suportng the judges Wait till pmln ot pti come to power and then they wll realise their mistake

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  • Arifq
    Aug 12, 2012 - 2:54AM

    Saroop Sahib how many cases are pending for the Supreme Court Lordships? As per the Annual Report issued by Supreme Court for the year ending December 2011:

    20,228 cases pending December 2011 compared to 15,186 cases pending December 2007

    Honorable Judges of the Supreme Court, we the people of Pakistan would like to know why have the pending cases increased by 33% i.e., 5thousand odd pending case increase since the lordships took over. Can we not question the conduct of Judiciary which at the end of the day are paid officials of the state? Before casting aspersions on “other” state institutions, I believe the honorable Judges of Supreme Court need to improve their performance. If they fail in their basic responsibilities, then they too are answerable and should be replaced.

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  • jahanzaib
    Aug 12, 2012 - 2:56AM

    wel done saroop ijaz

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  • Aug 12, 2012 - 2:59AM

    Nailed it and with such eloquence. Brilliant.

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  • Kanwal
    Aug 12, 2012 - 3:07AM

    you common pakistanis are daring to compare yourselves with the Royal Highness’ son? how dare you?

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  • Iftikhar shah
    Aug 12, 2012 - 3:50AM

    excellent…the lords are beacons of lights…all darkness right under their noses

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  • Analyst
    Aug 12, 2012 - 4:11AM

    I wonder how ignorant one has to be in order to believe that they represent the opinion of all except criminals … Can someone shed light on that ?

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  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Aug 12, 2012 - 4:43AM

    “All members of Parliament (government and opposition) should protest at this sermonizing and infringement into their domain.” They did loud and clear , where have you been.There is no happy medium in Pakistan, people complain constantly when they legalized the take over by some Napoleon Bonaparte of Pakistan Army under the heading of ” doctrine of necessity ” , and now that the Supreme Court is standing up against the corrupt outfit in Islamabad, some would like to skewer some of the judges. Yes if Arsalan is guilty of corruption from some sleazy private person then he should also be prosecuted under the law of the land and I am sure it will happen pretty soon as people like you are pushing hard.

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  • san
    Aug 12, 2012 - 7:16AM

    One thing I don’t understand people says that parliament is answerable to the people, even if their are numerous cases hanging in court of misdoing of parliamentarian. So my question is who will do them justice. The people who elected them (will wait for their five year tenure) or justice institutions. As people will only do justice by not electing them in next elections but are parliamentarian worth it to wait for them five years. Does not make sense.

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  • Naseer
    Aug 12, 2012 - 8:06AM

    Mr. Ijaz i think you are showing only one side of mirror. No one in this world is free from mishapps.

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  • Imran Con
    Aug 12, 2012 - 8:55AM

    This… definitely shows the lawyer part of your credentials.
    That’s not intended to imply anything positive or negative. But it’s exactly the kind of wording I’d expect from a lawyer in a courtroom. Especially a courtroom containing a judge who has a habit of lashing out at people who make the slightest hint that he’s not perfect or that he’s not always right and improvises where the lines are drawn even in similar situations pending on his personal opinion.

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  • ssp786
    Aug 12, 2012 - 9:21AM

    Your writing is good but the content is biased.In away it creates discussion among people to explore the truth.One must need to learn in life is how to use his talent for the good of people.

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  • Gul Metlo
    Aug 12, 2012 - 11:35AM

    Extremely brilliant. But we know justice is blind. So would not see even this one. Their focus would remain only Zardari.Recommend

  • faraz
    Aug 12, 2012 - 4:08PM

    @Lala Gee:
    You should be praising – and respecting – the author even more for this article… since he is only asking to treat all the “crooks and criminals” equally.. he is not hinting anything to lower the judiciary, infact he is trying to help judiciary since treating all the “crooks and criminal” equally would only raise the respect of Judiciary in the eyes of people for whom “judiciary is the only hope and whose prayers are behind judiciary”

    Why do you think that Arsalan Case should not be heard as quickly as Moosa Gilani case.. and why Asghar Khan petetion should not be heard as rapidly as the NRO issue is handled and why DG FC should not be summoned to court through a lower grade official – and then sent home disgracefully – as it was done with the prime minister?

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  • Abid Mehmood
    Aug 12, 2012 - 5:20PM

    Brilliant.
    Thought provoking article.

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  • Syed Ali
    Aug 12, 2012 - 5:38PM

    excellent article and on the spot. the SC has to take pains not to appear biased against the PPP but they seem careless about it to a fault.

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  • Anonymous
    Aug 12, 2012 - 5:47PM

    Saroop you are great as usual, I wish to see you as panelist on talk shows. Express has many TV show hope some one listens.Recommend

  • Ercelan PILER
    Aug 12, 2012 - 7:30PM

    Brilliant, I agree.

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  • Bilal Abbas
    Aug 12, 2012 - 8:26PM

    Brilliant piece sir, couldn’t agree more. Small error: It’s not ‘DG FC’ but IGFC (Inspector General). Thanks

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  • Ahsan
    Aug 12, 2012 - 10:46PM

    One wonders why the once imprisoned judiciary after winning its independence started chasing only one person? Is it not due to only one reason: the targeted person is nucleus of political system. Why do the judges like civil-military bureaucrats hate politicians? It is in fact a war of economic interests. No matter how many excellent like the above are written, it as of now difficult to assume that the unelected institutions will accept reduction of their control over wealth of Pakistan.

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  • Truth bites
    Aug 13, 2012 - 12:57AM

    Do you ever find any problem with our president as we see you attackin CJ who is hope for pakistan. Shame

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  • Amer
    Aug 13, 2012 - 5:53PM

    Excellent piece of writing dear author.  I like the way you  courageously expressed ur desire to fix Arsalan (and of course  CJ too) even though you have only a flimsy case (that’s too firmed up by MRiaz who boasts to to have bribed so many in the land of pures) in ur hand. 
     I particularly appreciate  a couple of points in the article: 
    (1)- “CJ is a vigilant family man who took notice of vulgar TV program”..( implying that why he couldn’t notice his 34 year old son) – what a daring infringement into the personal lives of others and brave make over of facts dear author . As far as i remember, the TV programs case is on a petition filed by some petitioner, and in Arslan case SC has itself took suo-motto and referred it for investigation. But i like ur courageous implied demand for instant grilling of Arslan (and of course of CJ too, no matter what!) without giving him due legal right of defence. While M. Riaz  (who openly admits to have also bribed so many public functionaries) is still at large,  not even a single word about this in ur article. Bravo!
    (2)- “The parliament’s passing of contempt of court law cannot be ascribed as mala fides”. If so, we will have to delve deep into etymology for defining this master piece of our parliament.  Through this law, our parliament in fact tried to put the executive above any law and accountability – an immunity which was perhaps not enjoyed by emperors of even medieval era. And on the top it, you asserts that no one can dictate the parliament that how it should act. But u r bold enough to feel no qualm in dictating the court ur desired schedules for cases as well as the decisions thereupon.
    Dear author ur article and its underpinnings remind me of the last paragraphs of Animal Farm. The bleating “four legs good, two legs bad”  has in fact turned into “four legs good, two legs better”. But under the great fervour of democracy and what not; you, I and most others couldn’t realize this change.

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  • Lala Gee
    Aug 13, 2012 - 8:05PM

    @Amer:

    Thank you to remind us the famous allegory “Animal Farm”, by George Orwell, a mandatory read in the West and a true depiction of the current state of democracy in Pakistan.

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  • Shah
    Aug 15, 2012 - 3:39PM

    @ Lala Gee….i agree with you 100%!!

    @saroop…sir how can you even compare Arsalan’s case with that of Musa Gillani or Raja Pervaiz Ashraf? Arsalan’s corruption and wrong doings are confined to one individual and that is Malik Riaz..the accusations on other two (i.e Musa Gillani and PM Raja) are far more serious and involve quite an enormous amount of money and national institutions!! Sir please try to remain neutral.Recommend

  • nasrullah
    Aug 18, 2012 - 7:57PM

    if we talk about arslan iftekhar then ” I only believe in my Daddy court”
    if we talk about father “Everyone is jealous of my son that how he earned 90 million in just three years”Recommend

  • hanmbal
    Aug 19, 2012 - 11:41AM

    @Lala Gee:
    pot calling kettle black. you have political biases too and want to hear something which suits your political ideology.

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