British chief justice flays Musharraf

March 17th, 2008 - 9:02 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) British Chief Justice Lord Phillips Monday severely criticised President Pervez Musharraf for sacking Pakistan’s chief justice Iftakar Muhammad Choudhry last year and for failing to provide “the rule of law” to his country. Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers was addressing members the Indian Supreme Court bar and bench in presence of Indian Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan among others.

Lord Phillips was leading a British delegation to an Indo-British Legal forum’s meet here Monday.

“The suspension of Justice Choudhry and many of his judicial colleagues was a serious blow to the rule of law in this area of Commonwealth,” said Lord Phillips.

“We look forward to the restoration of judicial independence and the rule of law in Pakistan,” said Lord Phillips.

The head of the British judiciary, however, had wholesome praise for the people and lawyers of Pakistan for their protests and agitation against Musharraf’s March 9, 2007 decision to sack the chief justice on charges of misconduct and misuse of authority.

“But the popular unrest that followed the ouster of Chief Justice Choudhry showed that people and lawyers of Pakistan value judicial independence and the rule of law,” said Lord Phillips.

He made the remark while dwelling upon the virtues of judicial independence and the rule of law.

“The rule of law is the bedrock of the democratic society and judicial independence is necessary to establish the rule of law in a society,” he said.

He described the judges’ abilities “to be true to their oath to the country’s constitution” and “test the legitimacy of the actions of their government without fear or favour” as two hallmarks of judicial independence.

The British chief justice also linked the judicial independence to the process of judicial appointment saying the two are interdependent.

The British delegation also comprises of Lord Mance of the House of Lords, Lord Hamilton of Lord President of the Court Session, Lord Justice Campbell of the court of Appeals in Northern Ireland, Lady Justice Arden of the Court of Appeals and Sir Suma Chakarabarti, the permanent secretary in the British Ministry of Justice.

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