Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 8, 2017

Supremely Fallible? A Debate on Judicial Restraint and Activism in Pakistan

Sanaa Ahmed
From the journal ICL Journal


Despite a rich history of judicial review, the activism witnessed during the tenure of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (2005-20131) was gener­ally seen as unprecedented in Pakistan and eventually led to the court being accused of politicization, judicial overreach and even ‘judicial terrorism’.2 This paper examines the calls for ‘strategic judicial restraint’ in the sphere of economic decision-making within Pa­kistan’s broader socio-political context.

The Chaudhry court’s activism is mapped against the historic trajectory of judicial review in Pakistan, particularly the cases pertaining to military takeovers and administrative law. It is contended that the seeming expansion of the frontiers of judicial review merely mark the renegotiation of political power between the judiciary, the military as well as political and economic elite. Further, it is argued that the economy was the most convenient amphi­theatre for this battle for greater political relevance by and among the political actors in contemporary Pakistan and not, as alleged, what was actually being fought over.

Published Online: 2017-2-8
Published in Print: 2015-6-1

© 2017 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston