With all due respect to the honourable judge I think he has got it badly wrong.
Lest anyone accuse me of contempt let me quote the highly regarded Lord Salmon in my defence.
In 1968 Salmon LJ, dismissing an application for contempt of court went to the extent of recognizing that writers must be permitted to make criticisms that may be inaccurate, unfair, off the mark, rumbustious or in poor taste.
"It is the inalienable right of everyone to comment fairly upon any matter of public importance. This right is one of the pillars of individual liberty - freedom of speech, which our courts have always unfailingly upheld.
"It follows that no criticism of a judgment, however vigorous, can amount to contempt of court, provided it keeps within the limits of reasonable courtesy and good faith.”
Anyhow I am not venturing to comment on a judicial judgement, but simply making an observation on an aside uttered by Justice Javed Iqbal.
Here is my respectful address to Justice Javed Iqbal.
Respected Judge Sahib,
As you should be well aware, the Constitution of Pakistan is not the property of the Executive, the Parliament or the Judiciary. It is the property of the people of Pakistan.
Simply put, the Executive is legally commanded to follow it and the Parliament empowered to amend it, the Judiciary’s role is limited to interpreting it – and no more.
As the Constitution is a property of the people they are perfectly entitled to discuss it, comment upon it, praise it and even criticize it. Judge sahib, whether their comments are informed or not, is completely and utterly irrelevant.
In fact it is high time the Constitution was discussed and debated on television, radio, chaikhanas and in the streets. The more it is discussed, the more people will become conscious of their so-called ‘sacred rights’ guaranteed by the Constitution - which sadly have been regularly watered down by a feeble judiciary following the instructions of dictators since days of Justice Munir in 1955.
It is widely accepted by many citizens of Pakistan, that along with the military, the judiciary is equally culpable in destroying their freedoms and human rights for over fifty years.
In the past month we have witnessed an extraordinary revival in the defence of our Constitution – thankfully it is no longer considered ‘a simple booklet of ten to twelve pages which can be torn up’ by any tin pot dictator with the support of a servile judiciary.
People are now calling for an independent judiciary as stipulated in the Constitution of 1973; others are calling for provincial autonomy as envisaged in 1973 when the constitution came into existence. Importantly, many citizens are demanding their guaranteed rights of free expression, an unshackled press and liberty from unlawful oppression and illegal detention as encompassed in this most important of all national documents.
One of the few admirable aspects of the modern Americans is the reverence they display for their constitution.
Judge Sahib, I respectfully suggest that it is high time we did the same.
Supreme Court of Pakistan