Justice Bandial Sets the Bar High

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New Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial has chosen a rather unique yet debilitating challenge to lock horns with. To overcome the long tentacles of scandals ever-itching to mire the judiciary would not be an easy job, but sadly it is not just others who are ready to whip up storms. The sword too does not seemingly want to stay perched upon the king’s fountain. Yes, the fast-cascading reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa and his wife now seems to be a well-thought-upon attack on the credibility of the bench and the Supreme Court plucking up the courage to point at its own shortcomings is similarly, an auspicious moon.
But considering the long-winding list of clouded priorities and the knack of letting politics get in the way of justice, this high-profile case was a collector’s item. Too many flags have already been raised. The judiciary’s gross inaction against extra-constitutional democratic rules on not one but three occasions is enough to smear paint upon any and all historic judgements. For every landmark pounding of gavel against the November 3 emergency, a dozen more stand in subservience to politics. Then again, those bending the law to gain access to bulletproof luxurious vehicles and pension orders are a dime a dozen. A country known for its provision of top-notch (among the top 10) perks to its judiciary could expect just as spectacular performance in the disposal of cases. However, the dismal backlog of over 44,000 cases before the apex court with endlessly tragic delays in the lower courts make a mockery of Pakistan’s blindfolded Justitia.
It would be unfair to expect Justice Bandial to magically snap his fingers and let rivers of milk and honey flow through the land. However, anyone who shows interest in reforms and the supremacy of verdict over colourful statements should take into account the many, many chinks in the armour. The genie of judicial activism that refuses to be pushed back inside and the obsession with hooliganism writing the better part of legacy are some important stumbling blocks. May his respect for the judiciary soon be the hallmark of his courtroom as well as those of his deputies across the land.