Judicial Imperialism: The Judicialization Of Pakistan
The judicialization of Pakistan’s politics is in full swing.
The Chief justice of Pakistan has publicised his role as an elected representative of the people. Which is only indicative of a larger problem with all the public office holders of Pakistan; they want themselves to be popular public figures, without realizing the institutional consequences.
The Chief Justice stepping into the domain of an executive is not healthy for the judiciary or the democracy in Pakistan. Critics are arguing about the growing outreach of the judiciary and wondering what the domain of the judiciary is according to the constitution. The Chief Justice of Pakistan has been in the news lately for visiting hospitals, schools, and keeping himself updated on the developmental speed of infrastructure projects rather than impartially and faithfully performing his duties in the constitutional domain.
Building dams, controlling the population and interfering in almost more than 50% of the administrative works, is not very heartening for rule of law. Justice John Marshall Harlan once pointed out, “The court does not serve its high purpose when it exceeds its authority even to satisfy justified impatience with the slow workings of the political process.” This power that Saqib Nisar is using, is setting a judicial precedent; now all subsequent CJPs have the legal authority to intervene in matters of public administration and politics. Which is dangerous, because it is juvenile to assume that these powers could not be used for agendas that are “not very democratic”, to put it nicely.
The political process will take its course on its own. The fragile political system does not allow the court to have the moral authority to exercise judicial activism in political matters.
The proactive role of the judiciary over the last decade is certainly a welcoming step, but stepping into the domain of executive and legislature by judiciary in the pretext of interpretation and illustrative of the law is not conducive for a democratic State.
Judicial activism is preferred only when it is supplemented by judicial restraint.
It is impressive to note that the constitution has defined powers for the three wings of state i.e. executive, judiciary and the legislature. It has prescribed checks and balance on the working of executive and legislature. But there is no specific mechanism to control the authority of a judge. Indeed, it is self-restraint. Every decision by the court is precedence for the future, the legacy that current chief justice of Pakistan is trying to promote will end up providing a very miserable future to the judiciary. The only domain where the Supreme Court needs to be proactive is in handling more than 2 million pending cases.