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Judicial Norms
Judicial Norms

Judicial Norms

The Supreme Court prohibited politicians from putting their names on state land

Islamabad: Overlooking the main subject of a petition while issuing orders on secondary issues is against the judicial norm. According to legal experts, higher court judges are following the lead of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, who pioneered this practise.

While commenting on a decision by Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who barred the politicians from placing their nameplates on state land, legal experts said it was not the subject of the petition.

The apex court’s divisional bench, comprised of Justice Faez and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, was hearing the Evacuee Trust Property Board’s (ETPB) petition, which states that the land near Saidpur Road in Rawalpindi belongs to the board.

During the hearing, Justice Faez questioned how the politicians were able to place their nameplates on government land. He also stated that any politician who wishes to donate land to the state is most welcome to do so. “The practise of putting politicians’ names on katchi abadi and state land should stop,” he added.

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The apex court questioned why the photographs of then-Chief Minister Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi were printed on the certificates of properties located in a Rawalpindi slum.

ETPB informed the top court that the federal government declared the land near Saidpur Road in Rawalpindi as katchi abadi in 1992, and that as Punjab chief minister in 2008, Parvaiz Elahi granted this land to private individuals.

In a five-page judgement, Justice Faez ruled that affixing one’s own photograph to a public or government document projects personal interest, which is not permitted because it violates one’s oath of office. It is also prohibited to manoeuvre or honour oneself through subordinates, political associates, or in a manner that may call for reciprocal favours.

“Paid state employees, constitutional office holders, and elected officials must not use their positions for personal, partisan, or financial gain. It is self-glorification if someone names a public or government place or property after themselves or affixes their own name or image on a public or government document; if this is done by others, it is obedience, flattery, nepotism, and/or corruption,” the order added.

In response to the decision, Supreme Court advocate Khawaja Naveed Ahmed stated that former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary instituted the practise of giving orders on secondary issues while hearing the primary subject. Even outside of the context of petitions, he used to dismiss government officials as irrelevant.

He stated that in many cases, the higher judiciary has ignored the primary subjects of the petitions and passed other orders that were not relevant to the case while the applicants waited for justice, and this is just because the judges of the higher courts sometimes prolong the cases by taking notice of secondary issues.

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He remarked that judges should concentrate on the primary subjects of the petition and avoid making headlines while hearing ordinary cases, as this is against judicial norms. “The order prohibiting politicians from having their names displayed in public places was correct, but it was not the primary subject of the petitioner’s plea,” he added.

He asserted that the petition was about the land and whether or not it belonged to ETPB. It was not a petition to prevent politicians from having their names or pictures displayed on state land. “Thousands of cases are pending in the apex court, and applicants have been waiting for justice for many years, but, rather than clearing them on time, our judiciary is focusing on other issues,” he added.

It is worth noting that in many cases, the Supreme Court took up the petition only to discover that the applicant had died two years earlier in jail. One prominent example was Dr. Qadeer Khan’s request that the court allow him to move freely, but the SC took up his request after his death and then dismissed the case.

In an interview with Bol News, advocate Muhammad Ikram Chaudhary stated that judges can issue orders, but they must be related to the primary subjects. If a judge issues orders on issues that are unrelated to the main subject of the petition, he or she is violating judicial norms and parameters.

He went on to say that for many years, judges have issued such orders while criticising politicians in order to make headlines.

According to the latest data released by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, more than 52,000 cases are pending in the court.

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As of November 30, there were 52190 cases pending in the Supreme Court. Between November 16 and November 30, 840 new petitions were filed, with 675 cases being disposed.

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