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Speech of Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan

Dated: 7-May-2015

Ladies and Gentlemen!

This Full Court Reference is being held today in fond memory of His Lordship Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mamoon Kazi. His Lordship passed away on the 2nd of April, 2014, having lived a life of fidelity to the Constitution. He was a man of unparalleled legal acumen, who will be remembered especially for advocating the rights of the marginalized. While paying our respects to the memory of the departed, we will remember his contributions to the jurisprudence and his endeavors in furthering the cause of justice in Pakistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

          Death is not an event apart from life, but as Murakami, a Japanese author of fiction, notes “death is but a part of life”. It is not a plunge into terminal nothingness but a transition into a continued but mysterious process of spiritual evolution. Thinking of the departed will always leave us with an ineffable melancholy feeling, bringing back memories breeding pain. But this pain can be consoled by remembering and cherishing a life lived to its fullest by the bereaved. His Lordship will be remembered as a valiant judge, dedicating his life to the pursuit of justice for the voiceless and for the voices silenced by injustices perpetuated by the powerful.

Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mamoon Kazi graduated from Sindh Muslim College in 1955 with a degree in English Literature and Political Science, after which he pursued the study of law. As a lawyer, His Lordship advocated the causes of labor and marginalized communities in the society through social action litigation. His societal contributions towards upholding the rights of the labor included his appointment as member of the National Industrial Relations Commission in 1973, established to resolve the trade union disputes at a national level. As a professor of law at his alma mater he inspired a generation of lawyers to contribute towards the Rule of Law. Elevated to the Sindh High Court in 1985, His Lordship served in this position for almost ten years before being elevated as an ad-hoc judge of the Supreme Court in 1995. His Lordship retired with effect from 26.01.2000.

 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen!

          His Lordship spent his life, as a lawyer and as a judge fighting for the rights of the labour in society. As a lawyer Justice Kazi represented trade unions in various class action suits against industrial employers, seeking improvement in working conditions and prioritizing workplace safety. He staunchly believed that labor could only improve its living standards and working conditions through collective actions of organized trade unions. He sought to instrumentally use law as a medium of social change, in his lifelong pursuit to improve the plight of workers.

As a judge, His Lordship gave many seminal decisions in service and labor laws, seeking to protect laborers from exploitation. In Lal Khan v. Punjab Labour Appellate Tribunal( 1995 SCMR 1758 ) His Lordship interpreted the term 'employer' in labor legislation broadly to suggest that even those operating in supervisory capacity at the behest of the employer, through their tacit approval, can be deemed as employers. This interpretation by Justice Kazi resolved the legal conundrum, often used by employers as a technical defense against any legal proceedings initiated by the workers against illegal actions taken by appointed managers. The foresight shown by His Lordship opened up avenues for legally challenging exploitation of workers by their employers, who were previously insulated from the law.

As a member of the National Industrial Relations Commission, His Lordship strove to amicably resolve industrial disputes at the national level. As a member of the Commission, Justice Kazi proposed major changes in the structure and functioning of the industrial dispute reconciliation and adjudication mechanism in the country. He wanted to reform the industrial relations machinery so as to make it, and I quote, “more effective and more acceptable” (unquote). Some of the glaring weaknesses addressed by His Lordship were delays and the prohibitively high expenditures involved in initiating and pursuing labor cases; along with ad hoc nature of the adjudicative and reconciliation machinery, and interference of the Administration in the working of the industrial dispute reconciliation process. It is a sign of the quixotic brilliance of His Lordship that the issues identified by him and his proposed solutions remain relevant even today.

 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen!

          Judiciary is the guardian of Constitutionally protected vestiges of the French Revolution: life, liberty and property of the people. It is incumbent upon every judge, to check the excesses of administration and to protect people's freedom. The modern Criminal Justice System is broadly tasked with meting out retributive justice while simultaneously protecting the rights of the accused. It is the obligation of a judge, as guardian of the text and spirit of the Constitution, to ensure that the rights of the accused are not violated in the process of criminal adjudication.

His Lordship expounded upon these principles in the case of Muhammad Abbas v. Sagheer Ahmed( PLD 1995 SC 330 ), wherein he laid down the principles for overturning the acquittal of a person by an appellate forum. His Lordship in his wisdom noted that upon remanding the case after reversal of the finding of acquittal, the Trial Court is only required to record a fresh finding after reappraisal of already recorded evidence. In this His Lordship protected the accused from the tribulations of another protracted trial. His Lordship's contribution to substantive and procedural criminal law will continue to guide generations of practitioners of law, who are trying to create a more just and inclusive society, where the rights of the accused to Constitutionally protected Fair Trial and Due Process are protected, preserved and promoted.

Ladies and Gentleman!

          A true form of democracy will only usher when Judiciary, as guardians of the Constitution, will actively ensures executive's compliance with the dictates of the Constitution. This liberal philosophy of tolerance and protection of Constitutional democracy permeated His Lordship's jurisprudence, who always maintained fidelity to the Constitutionally sanctioned Equality of all before law. In the case of Sister Marry John v. Government of Punjab through Chief Secretary and others( 1999 SCMR 2335 ) a Christian missionary school building was taken over by Government, the possession of which was later given to one of the respondents, who then restricted appellant's access to Church for prayer. His Lordship in an eloquently written judgment declared , and I quote, “that the said respondents had no right under the law to cause any kind of harassment to the appellant or any other person connected with the said Organization, or to block access of any such person to the Church or to interfere with the appellant's rights over the said property.” (unquote)

Ladies and Gentlemen!

          We all subconsciously acknowledge that eventually our lives lead to the ultimate moment of death, which much like change is the only constant. But this should not cause us any gloom, for it is perhaps only in death that our souls find peace from the chaos of the material world. For a just soul, however, death is not a moment of annihilation because the memories etched in our hearts by it continue to resound of its presence. Mr. Justice Mamoon Kazi has left us with memories of his unwavering struggle for human rights and a jurisprudence that will continue to enlighten our search for justice, peace and prosperity in our society. The loss and emptiness left by His Lordship's demise will perhaps never be filled. But let us vow today not to mourn but to strive purposefully upon the path of justice and steadfastness his life teaches us. Let us promise to become an incarnation of the philosophy of liberal egalitarianism His Lordship lived by.

I bid Justice Mamoon Kazi eternal peace by quoting some last lines written by Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali poet, for passing away of great men:

 

“Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.

 

Let not death be but completeness.

 

Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.

 

Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the final nest.

 

Stand still for a moment, and say our last words in silence.

 

I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.”

 
 
 
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