Pakistan's Influential Chief Justice Chaudhry to Retire

Snehesh Alex Philip/Islamabad
Pakistan's Influential Chief Justice Chaudhry to Retire

Pakistan's longest serving Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry will retire tomorrow, ending an era marked by aggressive judicial activism that even snared a serving Prime Minister.

Chaudhry, credited with making the judiciary a strong pillar, is a man feared by the political class and the bureaucracy.

He has built a reputation for himself through direct confrontation with the civilian government and the powerful military to an extent.

Chaudhry, 64, himself believes that his legacy will continue even after he departs from the Supreme Court.

"When such judges are still in the apex court, no one can derail the system from the path of rule of law. I lived my life, I fought my wars but not against the poor and weak but against the power, cruelty and injustice," he said recently.

He said historians will judge how the Supreme Court worked under him. "You can see not just one but 20,000 cases which we resolved."

Born in Quetta on December 12, 1948, Chaudhry is the longest serving Chief Justice in Pakistan's history. He was appointed the top judge on June 30, 2005 but remained dysfunctional from November 3, 2007 to March 16, 2009 after he was deposed by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

He became a symbol of the lawyers' movement against Musharraf and their protests eventually played a crucial role in the fall of his dictatorial regime.

After his reinstatement in 2009, Chaudhry took up scores of suo motu cases against corruption and rights violations and issued strong judgements.

Though seen with suspicious eyes by the political class and the bureaucracy, Chaudhry is a darling of the masses.

Chaudhry forced former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani to step down in 2012 after he refused to implement the Supreme Court's orders to revive graft cases in Switzerland against then President Asif Ali Zardari. Many critics had then described Gilani's ouster as a "judicial coup".

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