Rashmaloo....A charming tradition & Elevation of Justice Saqib Nisar
By Akhtar Ali Kureshi
A nation who respects its traditions and values is really an asset for others and this may be a great source to transfer their rich culture to its younger generation and its followers and on the same time we have many occasions to observe in our society where many good traditions have been ignored by us without having any explanation or pretest.
In other words, we may say that we are trying to burry our identification and losing our rich inheritance. All these curious feelings were realised by me after attending the fascinating The Rashmalo, a grand lunch hosted by Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif at the Chief Justice House last Saturday (January 16), as it was also a pleasant experience to me.
It was a big social gathering representing all walks of life and particularly a judicial festival in which all segments of judicial hierarchy from civil judge to judge of the SC, either serving or retired were present and have occasion to share their point of views. Everybody was looking charming and enjoying a long-awaited sunny weather in the lush green backyard of the Chief Justice House. A vegetarian lunch comprising simple white rice, brinjel and dal masoor with boiled egg coupled with sweet rice (zarda) was highly appreciated by all invitees.
This is the rich tradition of Kashmiri family which has been observing in the family of Chief Justice Lahore High Court since many generations without any break or change. Earlier the ceremony was organized in old house of Khawaja Sahib at Balal Ganj, Lahore, thereafter it was shifted the new residence at S block of the Defence Housing Authority, and now it was in the Chief Justice House and next year it may be organised at Islamabad. The venue has been changed many times due to the change of host's residence but there was not even a slight change in the open heart hospitality, sweet feelings and sincerity which shows the high values of this family.
This year the Rashmalo is the occasion when Justice Khalil Ramday, judge of the Supreme Court got retired and one of the senior judges from Lahore High Court has to be elevated in the SC of Pakistan and in this regard Chief Justice of Pakistan, Chaudhry Iftikhar amicably attained the consent of Justice Saqib Nisar to be elevated as judge of the SC and CJ Khawaja Sharif will continue to retain the crown of the LHC and all matters look settled, including the consent of the government. Interestingly, Dr. Babar Awan, the Law Minister who was attending the Rashmalo, have got the chance to see Justice Saqib Nisar and he intentionally whispered to Justice Saqib Nisar that the government wishes to appoint you as CJ of the LHC and Justice Nisar courteously and in natural manner responded. This situation created a news story instantly released by a local private TV channel and it opens a new debate which earlier found no space.
Earlier, the government has no courage to object to this move but now it has taken its position. It has come forward with many legal and constitutional issues, showing a heavy tilt towards Justice Nisar, making reference to the Judges Case (PLD 1996 SC 324). Both the honourable judges were appointed on May 21, 1998. On the appointment of judges in the Lahore High Court, a deep rooted controversy is already pending between the government and the judiciary since long as about 40 vacancies of the Lahore High Court judges are lying vacant due to the judgment of July 31, 2009 and many times Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court sent the recommendations for appointment but all efforts gave no positive results; the poor litigants are suffering a lot and no body is taking care of this sensitive issue apart from the current wave of Judicial Policy and judicial activism.
One way we are about instant justice and other way we are lacking the judges' strength in the superior judiciary.
Apart from a matter of routine of every year, the ceremony of Rashmalo was considered to pay thanks (shukrana) by Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif for retaining the top slot of the Lahore High Court but a situation of blessing in disguise is appeared for Justice Saqib Nisar in the shape of Mr. Awan who played mysteriously and remained successful in making a split and change the complexion of whole scenario.
Who is going to be elevated to the Supreme Court is a question of merit and law coupled with the precedents of the Supreme Court which all the lawyers want to maintain the high judicial values of independent judiciary and not to repeat the earlier practice which created fuss in the judicial system and culminated in the huge crises. This is the time to show commitment for independence of judiciary, pay sacrifice for its high respect, hold its dignity, promote the real merits, follow the judgments and last but not the least do justice.
The writer is an Advocate of Supreme Court, Law Professor, Free Lance Columnist, member of International Bar Association, London and Former Assistant Advocate General Punjab