Monday, March 29, 2010

Pakistan's Judicial Restructuring

Despite Pakistan's troubled history of executive-judiciary relations and frequent attempts by the executive to pack or sack the judiciary, public opinion seems to be wary of granting the judiciary greater powers over its composition. In a recent editorial, The Dawn
takes on Nawaz Sharif's suggestion that the Chief Justice and the judiciary comprise a majority of members of a proposed Judicial Appointments Commission.

As they argue, "A hermetically sealed judicial institution of that sort is antithetical to the principles of democracy. Why should the present membership of a state institution determine what its future membership will be? Remember that judges are free to vote with their conscience once sworn in because it is virtually impossible to remove them before they retire (which is how it should be). What Pakistan needs is a judiciary free from interference, not a judiciary that is independent in the sense of deciding its own membership"

I am curious as to what prompts this critique, which was not so prominently made in the early days when the Indian Supreme Court gradually assumed powers of appointment. It could be driven by a sense of unease with the present incumbent, or from having experienced the folly of insulating one branch of government from checks and balances.
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