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The ‘tarnished legacy’ of Pakistan’s retiring prime choose Umar Ata Bandial | Courts Information – EAST AUTO NEWS

The ‘tarnished legacy’ of Pakistan’s retiring prime choose Umar Ata Bandial | Courts Information

Islamabad, Pakistan – As Umar Ata Bandial prepares to hold up his gown on Saturday, ending his tenure as Pakistan’s twenty eighth chief justice, his detractors and supporters say he can be remembered as one of the polarising prime judges within the nation’s historical past, who leaves behind a “tarnished legacy”.

The Lahore-born jurist’s tenure because the chief justice lasted for about 20 months after he took over in February 2022 because the South Asian nation confronted a critical political disaster.

As he got here to the highest court docket, the then-opposition coalition, the Pakistan Democratic Motion (PDM), was striving to topple the federal government, headed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) social gathering, by means of a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

Inside two months of taking cost, Bandial confronted his first main authorized problem when he declared that the then-deputy speaker of parliament’s choice to dissolve the home was “unconstitutional”.

With the highest court docket’s five-member bench headed by Bandial ordering the restoration of the Nationwide Meeting, the stage was set for Khan’s elimination because the PDM alliance moved a no-confidence movement in opposition to the federal government.

The elimination of Khan in April final yr set in movement a series of occasions with reverberations that may nonetheless be felt in Pakistani politics in the present day. For the subsequent 18 months, Bandial discovered himself arbitrating on a deluge of petitions, typically political, making him a deeply polarising determine within the nation.

Bandial, who grew to become a Supreme Courtroom choose in 2014 earlier than his elevation as the highest choose final yr, has been typically accused of displaying leniency in direction of Khan and his social gathering.

On quite a few events since his elevation, former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz social gathering, the PTI’s largest rival, demanded Bandial’s resignation, with a few of its leaders going so far as to counsel he be a part of Khan’s social gathering.

The tussle was so robust that Sharif’s authorities refused to implement among the prime court docket’s selections and even tried to cross a legislation in parliament to curb the powers of the chief justice.

Abuzar Salman Khan Niazi, a Lahore-based constitutional skilled who represented Khan in a number of authorized circumstances, dismissed allegations that Bandial was preferential in direction of Khan or his social gathering.

“PTI has been going through an enormous state crackdown and Bandial solely tried to uphold legislation and structure. If he was biased in direction of the social gathering and its chief, Imran Khan wouldn’t have been in jail proper now,” he mentioned.

Khan has been languishing in jail in Attock metropolis in Pakistan’s Punjab province since August 5, when he was handed a three-year sentence on corruption expenses.

Whereas the conviction was suspended by a excessive court docket final month, the 70-year-old opposition chief stays in custody within the so-called “cipher” case, an investigation over a leaked diplomatic cable that Khan claims proves his allegations that the USA conspired with Pakistani authorities to take away him.

Divisions in prime court docket

Yasser Kureshi, a lecturer in South Asian Research at Oxford College and writer of Searching for Supremacy: The Pursuit of Judicial Energy in Pakistan, mentioned Bandial took over the reins when the Supreme Courtroom was already deeply fragmented, however his actions solely helped to exacerbate these divisions.

“He didn’t appear inclined in direction of mitigating these divisions, utilizing his powers to kind benches that included judges that appeared to align with him, and marginalising judges with whom he was identified to have variations, and refusing to deliver collectively full benches for main political circumstances,” Kureshi informed Al Jazeera.

Niazi mentioned he held all of the 15 prime court docket judges liable for the fracture throughout the judiciary.

“[These] variations among the many judges solely harmed the judiciary, and for that, I maintain all of the judges accountable. They had been unable to take a seat collectively and ignore their variations, and this led to the Supreme Courtroom dropping its impartial area and as a watchdog of the manager,” he informed Al Jazeera.

Niazi mentioned Bandial can be remembered for his mild method, as a choose who was civilised and courteous, but his tenure as the highest choose left a lot to be desired.

“Underneath his time, there was an enormous state crackdown on political employees and human rights abuses, in addition to the state’s failure to implement on court docket’s orders. But he continued to indicate restraint. These had been extraordinary occasions, and he ought to have taken extraordinary measures as required,” he mentioned.

‘Tarnished legacy’

Moiz Mirza Baig, a authorized analyst, mentioned Bandial is forsaking a court docket which is “extra fractured than ever earlier than”.

“The chief justice’s propensity to appease all sides might not have appeased anybody. Whereas the beneficial properties from such appeasement might not be clear, what we’ve got misplaced is the individuals’s confidence within the Supreme Courtroom,” the Karachi-based lawyer mentioned.

However Asad Rahim Khan, a lawyer and commentator, praised Bandial’s “willpower regardless of being dealt an unattainable hand”.

“Over the course of his tenure, he was obstructed or opposed by each the PDM and the PTI, the deep state, the forms, and a divided bench. Consistent with so a lot of his predecessors, he might have simply capitulated. As a substitute, he did his responsibility to Pakistan and the structure,” he informed Al Jazeera.

In Could, Bandial declared Khan’s two-day detention for allegedly inciting violence was unlawful. He additionally issued a key choice earlier this yr to carry provincial elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The 2 PTI-controlled assemblies had been dissolved in January this yr as a part of Khan’s bid to power the federal authorities into asserting early elections. Pakistan historically holds provincial and nationwide elections collectively.

Nonetheless, regardless of clear pointers to carry the polls inside 90 days of the dissolution, the Bandial-led bench’s orders had been by no means fulfilled by the PDM authorities.

Authorized analyst Rida Hosain mentioned the divisions throughout the judiciary had been exploited by the political govt.

“The judiciary is dependent upon the manager for the enforcement of its orders. However the former coalition authorities diminished the authority of the judiciary,” the Lahore-based analyst mentioned.

Lawyer Rahim Khan mentioned Bandial ordering the depend of every legislator’s vote in case they went in opposition to social gathering strains in a legislative meeting was maybe his most contentious judgment.

The decision final yr, in a case about voting by dissenting legislators, resulted within the collapse of the PMLN-led authorities in Punjab, the nation’s most influential province, and allowed the PTI to take over.

Constitutional skilled Niazi agreed. “My studying is the Supreme Courtroom rewrote the structure in that call which isn’t their job. They’re meant to interpret structure, not fill in legislative gaps,” he mentioned.

For political analyst Cyril Almeida, nevertheless, Bandial can be remembered for his efforts to reshape the nation’s politics and to interpret the legislation with none regard for its instant political penalties.

“In fact, at a time when all civilian events themselves have contributed to the unravelling of democracy in Pakistan and the army has asserted itself extra forcefully within the political area, Bandial’s tarnished legacy is symbolic of the present political period,” the Islamabad-based analyst informed Al Jazeera.

“No social gathering has its palms clear and everybody has some reliable cause to be upset.”

The ‘tarnished legacy’ of Pakistan’s retiring prime choose Umar Ata Bandial | Courts Information – EAST AUTO NEWS


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