"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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It is the responsibility of every Pakistani to protect and preserve the honour and dignity of the institutions of Pakistan. Our courts and Judges are Hon’ble and learned because we attribute and associate them with these words. They command respect because we, the citizens, give them respect. We take our problems and disputes to them expecting fair resolution because we repose our trust and confidence in them. It is this trust and confidence in our courts which in turn gives our courts the impetus to ensure rule of law, to protect and preserve our rights and liberties and to regulate our society on the whole. If they lose our trust then their judgments would not even be the worth of paper they are written on. Hence our selection of words to address our institutions defines how we as members of civilized society behave and what values do we as a nation hold near and dear.

We cannot expect our society to be governed and ruled by law if we as nation do not treat our institutions, from which we expect justice, to be honorable and up holders of rule of law.

The Judiciary of Pakistan, has again come under scathing and contemptuous attacks from various quarters. Apart from unearthing corruption of billions of rupees in EOBI case involving many bigwigs; it has been attacked for issuing a contempt of court notice to Mr. Imran Khan and consequently conducting a hearing in the matter.

It all started when Mr. Imran Khan stated that the role of our Judiciary was sharamnak (“Shameful”) in holding of the May 2013 elections of Pakistan. The said statement was televised and published on several occasions addressed to wide audience including both local and abroad.

In this respect not only uncalled suggestions are being forwarded indirectly to our noble judges but selective foreign jurisprudence is being quoted in various newspapers by self styled scholars, pseudo intellectuals and commentators sensing a potential trial in the matter.  

In their attempt to influence the minds of judges, demands are being raised to go soft on Mr. Khan, allow freedom of expression and speech and show restraint otherwise any forthcoming trial would be perceived as unfair or biased.

In their naïve endeavor to carve out a democratic, tolerant and well behaved society, many commentators have already jumped the canon in conducting a media trial of an already sub judice matter and building the notion that somewhat our society is intolerant to freedom of expression and our Apex Court is one which does not allow criticism, fair comment and free speech. The idea is to portray the Apex court as somewhat a judicial dictator who is intolerant to any criticism and which is opposed to freedom of speech and expression in Pakistan. An attempt is being made to undermine the authority of the Judiciary of Pakistan in dispensing real justice and managing the state of affairs of Pakistan in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan

Articles and editorials are being written at length elaborating and emphasizing that times have changed and that the right to free speech and freedom of expression in Pakistan is the need of the hour without realizing and appreciating the fact that the statement uttered by a Mr. Imran Khan apart from being derogatory in its literal parlance is one which could have far reaching implications for the Judiciary, on the whole, and the Apex Court in particular.

Such an unfettered  freedom of expression has to be checked and restricted as the matter is not merely about the literal meaning or usage of the word sharamnak “shameful” but the imputations and aspersion it casted or might cast in the minds of average people or the Pakistani public at large.

It is not the Judges who are being subjected to derogatory remarks but the institution on the whole. The matter is not about ego of either the CJ or other judges in their personal capacities but of an individual making a sweeping irresponsible statement about the role of judiciary as shameful casting far reaching serious actual and implied assertions on the role Judiciary of Pakistan.

Such imputations amongst others could imply or have the potential to imply malafide, rigging, influencing the outcome of elections, fraud, criminal breach of trust, appointing RO’s in collusion with the winning party, irresponsible behavior of judges, corruption, misuse of authority, incompetence  and the list could go on depending upon and or leaving to the imagination of the public who are the recipient of such information or statement. They include both the ordinary Joe and the prudent Judge of the highest court capable of deriving different connotations.

Who would decide what Mr. Khan actually meant when he uttered the word shameful, his self, his lawyer or the supporters? The damage has already been done to the Judiciary as the institution and such freedom needs to be curtailed restricted and checked otherwise no institution in Pakistan would be safe from derogatory onslaught by various paid actors with questionable loyalties.

The matter should be looked at objectively and all efforts be made to elevate the honor and dignity of our Judiciary as a Pakistani institution and an organ of the state whose dignity, decorum and honor should be protected and preserved and  which Mr. Khan during his oath pledged to protect and preserve too.

Fair comment and criticism is always healthy, however, it must be done within the bounds of decency without ridiculing the institutions.   

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