Request for restraint: Judiciary urged to use contempt law sparingly

Published: April 27, 2014
HRCP report says a judge should speak only through judgments. PHOTO: FILE

HRCP report says a judge should speak only through judgments. PHOTO: FILE


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.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • mohib khan
    Apr 27, 2014 - 11:33AM

    Well as the former CJ may have been using the law effectively for his end. In lower courts it is almost a joke. If a court fines someone due to contempt he goes in appeal and if the goofer is some one against you it becomes your duty to fight against him. If you do manage a good lawyer you end up in just reducing the fine which is already much less. This is what the professional muqadma baaz are playing with. I feel that the law should be made more effective. And also he law concerning Resdudicarta.


  • Saleem
    Apr 27, 2014 - 7:51PM

    This is a joke. There is a need for lawyers to learn to respect courts and if they don’t do that, which is quite often, then courts must tell them to learn to respect the institution. They ransack courts, slap judges, call them names and still want to be allowed to do all that in the name of what?

    If HRCP wants to indulge in this debate then it better learn to recommend lines that needs not be crossed by both parties. If it is unable to do so then better not to come up with childish recommendations like this one.


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