Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed asserted on Monday that the judiciary is constitutionally independent and no one is allowed to undermine its independence. Speaking at a ceremony held to observe the start of the Judicial Year 2020-21, the CJP observed that, “Justice cannot be delivered and fundamental rights of the people cannot be protected unless the judges are fully independent and under no external pressure. The constitution mandates in its preamble that the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured. Under the constitution and the law, no one is allowed to undermine the independence of judiciary.” “I would like to assure you that in the times to come, the judiciary at all levels shall continue to strive to uphold the supremacy of the constitution, to foster justice in all circumstances and to ensure rule of law in the country,” he added. He said that justice is not only the foundation of every civilized society but also one of the fundamentals of Islam as envisaged by Holy Quran and Sunnah. “Justice is not merely the determination of the rights of the public according to the law but to ensure equality before the law and everyone must be treated equally under the law regardless of gender, race, religion or colour, etc,” he further said. “Our constitution guarantees equality before law and equal protection of law,” he added.The chief justice stated, “We may ask ourselves why is it that the courts are so very important for the functioning of our constitutional system. Why is it, that it is the courts that are tasked with protecting the people’s basic and fundamental rights. I believe the answer to these questions lies in the very simple fact that ours is a government of laws, not of men. Yet, laws, on their own, are of little use.” The CJP said that every judge of the superior judiciary is under a solemn oath, inter alia, to discharge their duties honestly, to the best of their ability and faithfully, in accordance with the constitution and the law. He further said that in all circumstances, the judge is to do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. “I must say that it is not only a privilege to be a Judge but a heavy duty is cast upon Judges, even under the oath, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and not allow their personal interest to influence the official conduct or official decisions,” he said.The chief justice said that the apex court had disposed of 12,544 cases during the previous judicial year, leaving the pendency of 45,455 cases. Highlighting the overall institution performance and disposal of cases in apex court, he said that it would be appropriate to bifurcate the previous year in to two phases: pre-coronavirus and post-coronavirus. “At the beginning of the judicial year, total 42138 cases were pending. During the pre-coronavirus period, about 8817 fresh cases were filed out of which around 6752 cases were decided while during post coronavirus period, 7046 cases were filed while 5792 cases were decided, leaving the closing balance of 45455 cases,” he said, adding that with the zeal to clear the backlog of cases, judges volunteered to forego most of their vacations and continued to perform their duties.