Keeping in view the overuse of the contempt of court power by former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Saturday urged the top judiciary that the law should be used sparingly.
In its annual report, the HRCP said there is a need to reinforce the principal that a judge speaks only through judgments and there is a pressing need to determine the principles and priorities for the use of suo motu powers.
“Taking up suo motu or giving attention to cases against the executive must not come at the cost of other pending cases,” it said.
Since March 23, 2009, contempt of court proceedings remained dominant in the apex court, as Chaudhry initiated contempt proceedings against judges, politicians, journalists, civil servants and others. The incumbent chief justice, Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, however, has shown restraint in this regard and has not issued a contempt notice.
The commission further recommends that the number of judicial officers needs to be raised without further delay and the court infrastructure strengthened.
“Effective steps should be taken to facilitate the litigants by making the administration of justice expeditious, affordable and accessible,” it adds.
Giving further comments on the role of the judiciary in 2013, the HRCP says that the top court has continued to win applause for reining in the executive and that the critics of former chief justice Chaudhry say that he kept an eye on tickers on TV channels and newspaper headlines with an obsession for glory.
The report reiterates that the blasphemy law is in urgent need of reform to prevent its abuse.
The HRCP has also urged the government to maka the Exit Control List (ECL) public and refrain from arbitrarily adding citizens to the list.
The report says that since 2009, the authorities have executed only one death row prisoner as there are around 8,000 prisoners on death row in prisons across the country. It is also stated that the courts continued to award capital punishment as 227 people were sentenced to death in 2013.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2014.