Law and justice cannot be distant neighbours - New Appeal Court President | Sunday Observer

Law and justice cannot be distant neighbours - New Appeal Court President

Justice A. H. M. D. Nawaz
Justice A. H. M. D. Nawaz

Instead of a coalescence between law and justice, there has grown a dangerous distance between the two and the law and lawyers have begun to lose much of their legitimacy among people whom they are unable to protect against injustice, new President of the Court of Appeal, Justice A. H. M. D. Nawaz told guests at the ceremonial welcome organised by the Bar last week.

Excerpts of his speech:

I articulate the proposition that law and justice cannot be distant neighbours. If they become distant neighbours in the hands of judges, the quality of justice is undermined and it reminds me of Jesus Christ who said, “The Sabath was made for man and no man for Sabath”.

Justice must not be rigid and the rigour of the law untampered by the milk of human kindness is not justice but akin to denial of it. As that great American judge Frankfurter said, “Protected in their sanctum justices may engage in that process of discovery that will yield the right answer-not an objective, eternally fixed answer, but the right answer for the time-which they will explain through “reasoned elaboration.” This reminds us of Lord Denning’s truism across the Atlantic –“a judgment must mature by deliberation and not by precipitation”. Speedy justice cannot be the substitute for a well reasoned judgment.

Instead of a coalescence between law and justice, there has grown a dangerous distance between the two, and the law and lawyers have begun to lose much of their legitimacy among people whom they are unable to protect against injustice.

All this is painfully true, but it is not the whole truth. I have watched with wonderment that there are other influences and traditions at the bar which never died and which must be crucial for the commitment we have made under the Constitution to bring real justice, dignity and freedom to all the citizens of this extremely exciting country, of so much promise and richness: so much romance and cruelty. I am infinitely richer for the opportunity to be exposed to these influences and traditions.

The first is the tradition of thorough scholarship, pursuit of forensic excellence, capacity for rational thought, intense intellectual energy and unremitting discipline which Attorneys have always been expected to apply in the discharge of their briefs.

There must be few endeavours, in all civilisation, which can compare with the totality of commitment and the punctilious regard for detail which a competent and conscientious advocate harnesses in support of his or her case. This is a great and impressive tradition bred in very competitive conditions, which enriches the level of legal debate in the resolution of jurisprudential and actual disputes, and ultimately in a very crucial sense, the quality and legitimacy of the Bench and the image of justice itself. A second and related tradition is a fierce independence and an uncompromising standard of intellectual integrity and capacity for objectivity which informs the best of the Bar. It is sometimes displayed with a towering magnificence and with it comes a depth of courage and a willingness to champion causes and litigants, often unpopular in the public perception.

As both a counsel and a judge, I often watched with absolute awe the depth of these traditions and their potential to bring sparkle in forensic combat in the Bar; to bring admiration-even adulation-from the public and in their even more crucial potential, ultimately to bring legitimacy and respect for law itself, and to grace our civilization which law strives to serve. It is my resolve that the Bar must regain its pristine glory and I will take every step possible to encourage and preserve these traditions.

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