Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (Urdu: ?????? ????? ??????) (born 12 December 1948 in Quetta) is the current Chief Justice of Pakistan. He was appointed as Chief Justice by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on May 7, 2005. He was suspended by President General Musharraf on March 9, 2007, when he refused to oblige Musharraf by refusing to resign. After having been elected as President for second term by the Parliament, Musharraf in November 2007 pre-empted an impending court decision against his re-election and suspended the constitution and declared a state of emergency. Justice Chaudhry convened a seven-member bench which issued an interim order against this action.
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was born on 12 December 1948 (age 62) in Quetta, Balochistan Province, Pakistan. Basically, Iftikhar Chaudhry's family belongs to a village of Faisalabad. Chaudhry belongs to Rajput lineage who migrated from India in 1947.
Career in Law
Chaudhry has a Bachelors in Arts and Bachelors in Law (LLB) from Jamshoro-Sindh. He joined the bar in 1974. Later, he was enrolled as Advocate of the High Court in 1976 and as an Advocate of the Supreme Court in 1985. In 1989 he was appointed as Advocate General, Balochistan. He was elevated as Additional Judge, Balochistan High Court on 6 November 1990 until 21 April 1999. On April 22, 1999 he became Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court. Besides remaining as Judge of High Court, he discharged duties as Banking Judge, Judge Special Court for Speedy Trials, Judge Customs Appellate Courts as well as Company Judge. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry also remained President of High Court Bar Association, Quetta, and was elected twice as Member of the Bar Council. In 1992 he was appointed as Chairman of Balochistan Local Council Election Authority and thereafter for second term in 1998. He also worked as Chairman, Provincial Review Board for the province of Balochistan and was twice appointed as Chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Balochistan.
On February 4, 2000 he was nominated Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan. On June 30, 2005 he became the Chief Justice of Pakistan. At present, Justice Iftikhar is also functioning as Chairman, Enrollment Committee of Pakistan Bar Council and as Chairman, Supreme Court Building Committee.
Oath taking under PCO 1999
After the proclamation of Provisional Constitutional Order, on January 26, 2000 an order Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 was issued that required that judiciary take oath of office under PCO. Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and a few other judges of superior judiciary, took oath under PCO while thirteen (13) Senior Judiciary members including the then Chief Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui Khalil-ur-rehman Khan Nasir Aslam Zahid, Wajeehuddin Ahmed Mamoon Kazi Fazil-e-Illahi Khan refused to take oath under the PCO, which was introduced by Musharraf, the oath administered to the judges was on a blank piece of paper which was later signed by all the judges who took the PCO oath, this event was considered to be the most shameful event in the history of Pakistani Judiciary.
Suspension and Reinstatement, 2007
On March 9, 2007, Chaudhry was suspended by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf also filed a Presidential reference against Chaudhry for misconduct. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf forwarded the case to Supreme Judicial Council as per procedure in constitution of Pakistan.
It was the first time in the 60-year history of the Pakistani Supreme Court that a Chief Justice was suspended. The suspension was made on the grounds of complaints against Chief Justice Chaudhry for violating the norms of judicial propriety, corruption, seeking favours and misbehaving with senior lawyers. He was also accused of interfering in the working of the executive branch.
After his suspension, there was unrest in the country with regard to the validity of the allegations against Chaudhry, as well as doubt as to whether Musharraf technically had the power to suspend the Chief Justice under the circumstances.
On May 5, 2007, Chaudhry with his counsel and politician friend Atizaz Ahsan, who is also the party member of the PPP, traveled from Islamabad to Lahore to address the Lahore High Court Bar Association. Demonstrations of support along the route slowed his motorcade to the point that it took him 25 hours to reach the dinner the association was holding in his honor.
On July 20, 2007, Chaudhry was reinstated to his position as Chief Justice in a ruling by the thirteen-member bench of Pakistani Supreme Court headed by Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday. He was represented by Aitzaz Ahsan, Shahid Saeed, Gohar Khan and Nadeem Ahmed [PLD 2007 SC 578] against 16 senior lawyers representing the Federation. The ruling combined 25 constitutional petitions filed by various parties, but referred most of the issues raised by the 24 petitions not filed by Chaudhry himself to lower courts for extended adjudication. All thirteen of the sitting justices agreed that Musharraf's action had been illegal, and ten of the thirteen ordered Chaudhry was to be reinstated and that he "shall be deemed to be holding the said office and shall always be deemed to have been so holding the same."
2007 State of Emergency
On Saturday, Nov 3, 2007, General Pervez Musharraf, who was the President and Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan at the time, declared a state of emergency and suspended the nation's constitution and parliament at the same time. The declaration accused the judges of violating article 209 of the Constitution of 1973.
On 15 November Geo News reported that Chaudhry had ordered the Islamabad Inspector General of Police to take action against his and his family’s house arrest and their possible relocation to Quetta. According to the channel, Chaudhry held the interior secretary, the commissioner, the deputy commissioner and the assistant commissioner responsible for his house arrest. He said he was still the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the official residence was his by right.
Just after general elections in February, on March 24, 2008, on his first day of premiership the Pakistani PM Yousaf Raza Gillani ordered Chaudhry's release from house arrest.
In October 2008, Chaudhry visited the Supreme Court building.
The Lawyers' Movement announced a "long march" for the restoration of the judges, especially Chief Justice Iftikhar from 12 to 16 March 2009. The government of Pakistan refused to reinstate the judges and declared section 144 in effect in three of the four provinces of Pakistan thereby forbidding any form of gatherings of the "long march". Arrangements were made to block all roads and other means of transport to prevent the lawyers from reaching the federal capital, Islamabad. Workers of the main political parties in opposition and the lawyers movement as well as other known persons from the civil society were arrested. Despite these efforts, the movement continued and was able to break through the blockade in Lahore en route to Islamabad in the night between 15 and 16 March 2009. A few hours later, on the morning of March 16, 2009, the prime minister of Pakistan restored Chaudhary Iftikahar as chief justice of Pakistan through an executive order. after which the opposition agreed to stop the "long march".
Important Considered Rulings
Pre 2007-08 Judgements
Pakistan Steel Mills Privatization
In 2007, the Supreme court ruled against the government, saying that the selling of Pakistan Steel Mills to a group including Arif Habib, former client and friend of PM Shaukat Aziz, was done in "indecent haste".
Some very important cases were heard in the supreme court in the 2007. Decisions have already been taken in some:
Dismissal of petition challenging Legal Framework Order (LFO) 2002
Just prior to the holding of the October 2002 General Elections a five member bench the Supreme Court of Pakistan that Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was a member of dismissed a petition which challenged the promulgation of the Legal Framework Order(LFO)2002 by Chief Executive and President General Pervez Musharraf. Under the LFO General Musharraf announced amendments to the constitution which restored executive powers to the President, including the right to dismiss the National Assembly, appoint Governors and Service Chiefs and created a National Security Council (NSC). The main controversy started in 2009 after restoration of all Judges, the Oath taking of Judges on PCO in past was then declared crime by the same Judges who has taken oath on PCO in the past.
Judgement on 17th Amendment and President's Uniform Case 2005
On April 13, 2005, in the "Judgment on 17th Amendment and President's
Uniform Case", Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was one of 5 Supreme Court
judges who dismissed all petitions challenging President Musharraf's
consistitutional amendments. In a wide ranging judgement they declared
that the Legal Framework Order (LFO) instituted by General Musharraf
after his suspension of the constitution, the 17th amendment which gave
this constitutional backing, and the two offices bill which allowed
Musharraf to retain his military uniform whilst being President were all
legal because the Parliament had approved the amendments.
Supreme Court justices
On 30 July 2009, a 14 member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that all the judges who had taken an oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), were removed from office and are now facing the Supreme Judicial Council. Two days later an ordinance signed by President Asif Ali Zardari officially removed all PCO judges from office.
Awards and honors
In the wake of the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan, on November 14, 2007, the Harvard Law School decided to award its highest honour, the Medal of Freedom, to Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, following the military crackdown the previous week. He becomes the first Pakistani to be presented with such honour.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry formally received the Harvard Law School Medal of Freedom during his visit to the United States in November, 2008.
The National Law Journal picked Chaudhry as the lawyer of the year for 2007.
The Association of the Bar of the City of New York granted Chaudhry an honorary membership in the association on Nov. 17, 2008, recognizing him as a "symbol of the movement for judicial and lawyer independence in Pakistan."