Open Letter to Chief Justice

Through your incisive comments and reach-out to public sector institutions, you have won many hearts, rattled powerful bureaucrats and scared scores of politicians. You have also shaken mighty ones through your suo moto actions through your relentless focus on the rule of law and good governance. These interventions beyond doubt ignited many hopes, particularly among those who feel having been wronged by the deeply entrenched vested interest within bureaucracy and the political landscape. Your inspections have not only sent shivers down the spines of those responsible for these institutions but also raised awareness on the need for better governance and adherence to rule of law.

But do you really think this should continue unabated, particularly if a new government – that shares your ideals on good governance – has assumed charged and intends extensive reform? Also, should the judiciary really involve itself in issues that fall under the purview of the executive? Why not wait a bit to test the promises of the new government before reprimanding them for failures or negligence?

Don’t you think that frequent suo motu notices will only add to the burden of pendency that runs into tens of thousands of cases even at the august Supreme Court?

We understand your interventions are driven by your concern for the rule of law and the welfare of the common and helpless citizens, but as is the norm elsewhere, your own charter of services places certain restrictions on your actions that have more to do with the executive than with the judiciary.

The Supreme Court judges, who seem to be fully committed to the cause of accountability and the rule of law can certainly take up case studies to get to the roots of the modus operandi that the ruling elites, in cahoots with bureaucrats, adopt to abuse power.

As a starting point, why not ask for the report that the State Bank of Pakistan compiled after audit of the Summit Bank to figure out the extent of capital flight i.e. money laundering being done by the powerful political elites?

Why not take up the LNG imports from Qatar and Nandipur cases as case studies for the alleged corruption. Let professionals look into these two cases and decide if they are involved in graft. Similarly, the Sahiwal coal-fired plant would also beg an enquire. This however must happen in a way so as not to upset the Chinese investors. We need an answer as to if the Asian Bank can extend loan for a coal power plant at the rate of 850,000 dollars per megawatt, why then the Sahiwal plant cost us double the price i.e. 1.6 million rupees per MW?

Also, this country needs structural reforms such as urgent amendments to the Criminal Procedures Code (CrPC), Civil Procedures Code (CPC) to rationalize litigation and ensure inexpensive speedy justice.

Trials spread over years, some times decades, not only frustrate poor litigants but also further entrench the cycle of corruption- largely to the benefit of those with money and influence of all kinds.

The biggest service the august court under your lordship could perform will be to push for, and help the government in, reforming the CrPC, CPC and the police because, as Martin Luther King Jr wrote from Birmingham, Alabama Jail’, April 16, 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

In another letter, Martin Luther also cautioned his countrymen in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963.

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

Should we take this also as a premonition for both Prime Minister Khan and yourself Mr. Chief Justice?

Published in Daily Times, August 26th 2018.