A Qur’anic Message for the Judiciary of Pakistan - By : Prof. Dr. Munir M. Hasan

There are many fundamental and important teachings of Islam described in Qur’an which are absolutely necessary for making a civilized society. Truthfulness and justice are two of them. These are so important that Allah has repeatedly instructed the believers in strong words to carry out Justice. Just a few verses on these instructions are:

[2:42] Do not confuse truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth when you know.

[4:58] Allah commands you that . . . . . when you judge among the people, you judge with justice.

[4:135] O you believers! Stand out firmly for justice as witness for Allah even though it be against yourselves, or your parents or your relatives. Whether a man be rich or poor, Allah is his greater well-wisher than you. So, follow not the desire of your hearts lest you swerve from justice.

[5:8] O you believers! Stand out firmly for justice as witness for Allah in all fairness, and do not let the hatred of others deviate you from Justice. Be just: this is closest to piety. Fear Allah, surely Allah is fully aware of all your actions.

[6:152] When you say a thing, let it be just, even though the matter relates to a relative of yours;

The golden words of Allah in verse 4:135 have received so much acclamation that Harvard School of Law, one of the most prestigious institutions of its kind in the world, has posted this verse of the holy Qur’an at the entrance of its faculty Library, describing this verse as one of the greatest expressions of justice in the history.

This message of Allah in Qur’an is quite clear. Justice is to be done in absolute terms without any fear or favour, and in no consideration of any man-made law and procedure.

It is well-known and undeniable fact that Pakistan, from the very beginning, has been in the grip of dishonest and corrupt people. This corrupt ruling class has been framing the laws which suit them and with loopholes in them so that they could escape from being punished even if they are caught by chance, and making it difficult even for an honest judge to award any punishment. Apart from this, the corrupt ruling class has been appointing corrupt people on the key positions, and with mutual understanding and cooperation of the corrupt men in authority and the corrupt ruling class the situation has been going from bad to worse continuously, with the result that Pakistan is now known in the world as one of most corrupt countries in the world.

Many times in Pakistan the legal governments have been overthrown on the excuse of corruption charges, but then not a single elite was ever punished on those charges. In this connection it is generally said that in taking these decisions the laws of the country have been followed and all such decisions are legal, but if an apparent judicious decision is taken in consideration of, or on the pretext of any man-made law, and any criminal or well-known corrupt person is not punished - and in Pakistan there are innumerable such instances - which in absolute terms is not justice, then such a legal decision is NOT justice in the eyes of Allah. These decisions may be acceptable in the law of the country, but will not be acceptable by Allah, and the persons making those decisions will be answerable to Allah.

If anybody wishes that Pakistan should come out of this ugly situation, then the only hope for any betterment lies in administering justice as ordered by Allah. In fact, under the circumstances, it has become the foremost duty of the courts, especially the superior courts, to be active and deliver absolute justice. Allah has given high importance to implement absolute justice which is evident from the above-mentioned Qur’anic verses. However, unfortunately, the role of even judiciary in the history of Pakistan has not been exemplary and there have been many instances when the decisions have been taken by the courts not on merit but on the pressure or advice of the governments.

Capital punishment of Z.A. Bhutto is one such glaring example where one of the judges of the bench admitted this pressure from the government. In some other cases, when exposed to public, the judges of the High Court and Supreme Court resigned, but no punitive action was ever taken against them. In the last general elections, a large number of candidates who did not qualify under Article 62 of the Constitution, were allowed by the courts to contest the elections. These are the clear examples of injustice by the superior courts.

In addition to what has been said in the preceding paragraph, it has been repeatedly told by the courts that the Prosecution leaves so much ambiguity in the cases that the criminals cannot be punished. Recently, the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan has admitted that the investigating agencies in Pakistan, including National Accountability Bureau (NAB), are not doing their duties and they are worthless. My assessment is that these agencies are made and corrupt persons are appointed as their heads to protect the criminals. Under the circumstances, respectfully I will say that it is not enough for the judges to point out the worst role of the investigating agencies, which is already known to everybody, but to do something to rectify this situation. Instead of releasing the criminals, the faulty inquiries should be rejected and responsible persons should be warned for their negligence, rather giving favour to the accused. Such warnings should be recorded in their service records, and whenever possible, they should be punished for being unfair and dishonest.

This approach needs somewhat judicial activism on their part. This activism has been practiced in Pakistan even earlier on many occasions, but never for the benefit of the country. This activism has also been practiced in some civilized countries of the world as well, but only for the better implementation of laws and for the benefit of the country. There are many examples. To keep this essay short, I will quote just one example here.

Not long ago, once Princess Anne, the daughter of the ruling Queen in the land of “Mother of Democracies”, was driving herself in her Bentley car on a motorway where the maximum speed limit is 70 miles per hour (mph). She was detected by a police officer to be driving at 82 mph. Although, on many occasions I, like so many others, have been driving there in excess of the speed limits, but luckily I was never caught. The principle is that once a defaulter is caught then there is no chance that he/she can be spared whatever his or her status could be. The policeman stopped her, and even after recognizing that she was the Princess, challaned her for over-speeding. The Princess appeared in the court personally. She did not deny the allegation and did not ask for a PROOF of over-speeding. The judge looked at her and gave historical remarks before the audience, saying:

This lady comes from a very respectable family. Such persons have dual responsibility. One, to follow the laws by themselves, and two, be a good example to others. So, on the basis of dual responsibility, I will charge her on two accounts (Or the words to that effect).

The normal penalty for over speeding in the British law is the deduction of three points from the driving license and a maximum fine of 200 pounds sterling. However, the judge deducted six points from her driving license and fined 400 pounds. The Princess bowed before the judge, accepted the award and paid the fine. Nobody complained that this award was against the rules. Even the Queen honoured that judgment and did not say anything. This is an example of judicial activism, but it was for the best implementation of the law and in the best interest of the country.

Some people may say here that it was a trivial matter and not a major example of judicial activism. They should know that in that country there are no major cases of corruption as dramatic as in Pakistan. At the same time, if any office holder is charged in a corruption case, he prefers to resign rather than competing in the courts. This small example of judicial activism gives the direction how to make the laws more effective. If Pakistan has to emerge as a corruption-free and civilized country, then this type of personal approach of resigning, and if not so, then this type of judicial activism is the only solution left. The government may not like such activism, but the public will welcome it overwhelmingly. And if this is not done, then the judges may be called law-abiding and remain honourable in the eyes of the people, but they cannot escape from being accountable before Allah for not administering real justice. At the same time, nobody can stop the country from meeting a disastrous end.

The story of Pakistan does not end here. I want to say a few words for the pleaders of the law as well. It is commonly seen that a person after committing an act of corruption or any other crime, goes to a lawyer and requests for a favour. The lawyer, knowing very well that the person has committed a crime, he tries to save the accused from the punishment of the court. Even if no underhand dealing is considered, many times he succeeds and the criminal is acquitted. However, both the criminal and his advocate seem to forget that saving from the worldly court in this life is not the ultimate success as there will be another court after their death. Not only that the wrong-doer will be then punished, but also all the pleaders and abettors will also be punished for helping in the crimes, on the Day of Final Judgment where there will be no man-made laws, no bargaining, no friendship, no intercession, and absolutely no chance of escape.

This submission of mine can influence only those who believe in the life after death, and in the final judgment by Allah.

Posted on Dec 03, 16 | 7:47 pm