Iftikhar Chaudhary: From Judicial Activism to Despotism?

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Est boni judicis ampliare jurisdictionem
(It is the duty of a good judge, when requisite, to expand the limits of his jurisdiction). Or is it?

A conscious effort to blur the lines between good justice and broad jurisdiction has been going on for quite some time in Pakistan. It has ranged from adjudicating on the Basant kite-flying to regulating the petroleum prices in a quasi-market economy.

Egged on by politicians who lack the will, ability or both, to take on the existing neo-liberal political economy of Pakistan, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has ventured into what is the judicial equivalent of demagogy and has the potential of turning into judicial despotism.

Just as the concentration of judicial, executive and legislative powers in one body or person – as in a martial law – is bad, equally horrible is an activist judge’s attempt to usurp the powers of the executive or legislature. Holding an elected government hostage, by pointing the gavel to its head, is arbitrary and shall be seriously counterproductive.