A Judge Speaks Out

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Oxford University Press, 2004 - Law - 383 pages
This text covers some highly important events in the history of the judiciary in Pakistan, significantly the development of the conflict between Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif followed by the storming of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It also discusses some of the landmark judgements rendered by the author, including the Separation of the judiciary from the Executive; the Eighth Constitutional Amendment; and the Judges' Case.

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Writer of the book is former Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan. For about twenty one years he was a significant member of the superior judiciary. He has only authored this book and is not a professional writer. As this book is an autobiography so it does not need any special credentials or expertise of writer. However in the starting chapters the book is simple, but in the later chapters the book gets filled with the judicial terms and it becomes difficult for a layman to grasp the idea behind the narration of the event.
The writer aimed his book to set the record straight and to narrate all the significant events he witness during his tenure, so his intended audience is general public interested in the judicial matters of Pakistan.
The purpose of writer as identified by him is to bring about complete picture of the events he witnessed during this period, which he believes are misinterpreted by general public due to lack of knowledge on the issues.
But after studying the book it gives the impression that the writer has written this book in response to the autobiography of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah “Law Courts in a Glass House”. As from chapter nine to thirteen, the tenure of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah as Chief Justice, has severely been criticized. This is due to that fact the writer was being superseded by Justice Sajjab Ali Shah in appointment as Chief Justice.
In this book the writer tried to cover all the important issues related to the judiciary, but he has not provided the analysis of the issues, and left this work on the reader to conclude upon. Most portion of the book is narrative in style.
The main point author wants to impress upon is the independence of judiciary. Through different cases the writer has tried to show how the government in power influences or tires to influence the judiciary to gain its motives. The writer also showed other side of the picture that within judiciary there are also some weak personalities who for their personal gains compromise on the impartiality.
As the book is an autobiography, like others, writer has praised himself through different ways, by including appreciation letters, and narrating the incidents in which he has been praised. The writer has not described even a single event in which he had done something wrong, whereas the writer has criticized the working of others.
However the book provides a lot of inside information about working of judiciary, the separation of Judiciary from Executive, relationship of judiciary and government and the intervention and influence of government on the judiciary. This book describes a substantial event that is the conflict between Nawaz Sharif and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, which led to contempt of court by Nawaz Sharif and other parliamentarians. It also describes some breakthrough judgments that affect society and the culture of jurisprudence. The book also throws light on the matter of Eighth Constitutional Amendment, the Judges' Case, Imposition of Emergency, Fundamental Rights of the people of Northern Areas, Anti-Terrorist Act, Military Courts, and Freezing of Foreign Exchange Accounts.
In the end it would be justified to say the over this book is very informative and thought provoking. It fulfills is aim which is described by the author in the start, but it might not catch interest of everybody as it deals purely with the judicial matters of Pakistan, specifically witnessed by the writer during his tenure. As it is a simple narration of events in an auto biography style, hence special illustration or figures are not required, however the writer has included some of his personal pictures in the book to create interest of the reader. Also Notes, Glossary of terms and Index has been given in the end to help the reader understand some unfamiliar terms.


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The High Court of Sindh

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About the author (2004)

Chief Justice Ajmal Mian was born in New Delhi, and completed his Bachelors in Political Science and Economics from the University of Karachi in 1953. He was called to the Bar in London in 1957, and served as advocate of the High Court of West Pakistan and then of the Supreme Court in 1962. He worked as a counsel for the Karachi Port Trust, Auqaf Department, and the Evacuee Trust Board. In 1980 he was appointed a judge of the Sindh High Court. He held the post of Acting Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court from 1985 to 1987 and by 1988 had become the Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court. In 1989, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. As a Permanent Chief Justice of Pakistan from 1997 to his retirement in 1999, he served as Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, Pakistan Law Commission, and also for the Federal Judicial Academy. The former Chief Justice is now Honorary Chancellor of Hamdard University in Karachi and also engaged in legal work and arbitration.

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