[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Pakistan's chief justice reinstated
Supreme Court says the Pakistan president's suspension of the top judge was illegal.
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2007 16:32 GMT

The ruling on Friday sparked celebrations by Chaudhry's supporters outside the court [AFP]

Pakistan's Supreme Court has reinstated Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as the country's chief justice, four months after he was suspended by Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president.
 
Chaudhry became a symbol of resistance to General Musharraf after refusing to quit in the face of pressure from the president and his intelligence chiefs.
Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, head of the 13-member court, said: "The reference has been set aside and the chief justice has been reinstated."
 
The verdict on Friday is seen as a blow to Musharraf and possibly the biggest challenge to his dominance since he seized power in a coup in 1999.
It could further complicate his bid to win a new five-year presidential term this fall.
 
The chief justice was suspended on March 9 following allegations that he abused his position, including using influence to get his son a job, fiddling petrol expenses and that he had a penchant for expensive cars.
 
The government filed a statement in the Supreme Court last month in which it also accused Chaudhry of harassing judges, showing bias in appointments and intimidating police and civil servants.
 
Celebrations
 
On Friday the court wrapped up the 43-day hearing of an appeal by Chaudhry against his March 9 ouster.
 
Your Views

"Since the day Musharraf arrived in 1999 he has been usurping the rights of others"

Jim ibarra, Cyberjaya, Malaysia

Send us your views

The announcement sparked celebrations by lawyers who had spent the day waiting outside the court for the verdict.

Retired Major General Rashid Qureshi, General Musharraf's spokesman, said the court ruling reinstating Chaudhry would be honoured and respected.

"The president has said the judgement of the Supreme Court will be honoured, respected, and adhered to," he said.

Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan's prime minister, said the government accepted the decision but that it was "not the time to claim victory or defeat".
 
Ramday, speaking before the ruling, said the court would not be swayed by the political sensitivities of the case and stressed its objectivity despite massive protests by pro-Chaudhry lawyers against Musharraf.
 
"The judiciary is here not as rivals, monitors or superiors to any institution," he said.
 
Musharraf's action against the judge sparked mass pro-democracy protests and political violence in Karachi that left more than 40 dead.
 
Chaudhry's supporters say the president ousted the judge because he could have kept Musharraf from maintaining his grip on power and because he took on cases about people allegedly abducted by Pakistan's intelligence agencies.
 
Musharraf, the president and army chief, hopes to get himself re-elected in uniform by the outgoing parliament this year, defying the constitution which says he should quit as head of the military by the end of 2007.
 
General elections are due no later than early next year.
Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.