Pakistan over three non-consecutive terms from 29 June 2005 to 11 December 2013. He was born on December 12, 1948, in Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan. Chaudhry received his early education in Balochistan before moving to Sindh province, where he studied law at Hyderabad University, receiving an LL.B. with special concentration in constitutional law, criminal law, and tax and revenue law. He established a legal practice as an advocate in 1974.
Chaudhry was named to the Pakistan Supreme Court in 2000 and later served as its chief justice from 2005 to 2007 and from 2009 to 2013. During his tenure, he lifted the ban on Nawaz Sharif’s ability to run for political office, which reinforced Chaudhry’s authority and the role of the Supreme Court in sustaining an independent Pakistani judiciary. However, Chaudhry was not without critics, who accused him of failing to improve the lower courts, which were riddled with delays and corruption, and of pursuing personal power, which he allegedly.
Early Life and Family
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was born on 12 December 1948 (age 62) in Quetta, Balochistan Province, Pakistan. Basically, Iftikhar Chaudhry’s forefathers belong to a City known as Jalandhar in the state of Punjab, India. Chaudhry belongs to the Rajput clan, his father, Chaudhry Jan Muhammad, a police officer, moved from India to Quetta, Balochistan during the partition in 1947. He was later born and brought up in Quetta more like a Balochi than a Punjabi. He has spent all his life in Quetta and moved to Islamabad when he was an elevated judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the year 2000. Chaudhry has three brothers who are settled abroad and he is the second eldest child of his parents. He has a wife, Mrs. Faiqa Iftikhar, and five children. His two sons are Arsalan Iftikhar and Ahmed Balach Iftikhar.He has three daughters namely Ayesha Iftikhar, Ifrah Iftikhar, and Palwasha Iftikhar. None of his children are married as yet, as they are young and pursuing their studies.
Career in Law
Chaudhry has a Bachelor in Arts and Bachelor in Law (LLB) from Jamshoro-Sindh. He joined the bar in 1974. Later, he was enrolled as an Advocate of the High Court in 1976 and as an Advocate of the Supreme Court in 1985. In 1989 he was appointed Advocate General, Balochistan by Akbar Bugti the then Chief Minister of Balochistan. He was elevated as Additional Judge, Balochistan High Court on 6 November 1990 until 21 April 1999. On 22 April 1999, he became Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court. Besides remaining as Judge of the High Court, he discharged duties as Banking Judge, Judge of Special Court for Speedy Trials, Judge of Customs Appellate Courts as well as Company Judge. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry also remained President of the High Court Bar Association, Quetta, and was elected twice as Member of the Bar Council. In 1992 he was appointed as Chairman of the Balochistan Local Council Election Authority and thereafter for a second term in 1998. He also worked as Chairman of, the Provincial Review Board for the province of Balochistan and was twice appointed as Chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Balochistan.
On 4 February 2000, he was nominated Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is said to be the youngest Chief Justice of Pakistan, who will be serving the longest period that any other chief justice has ever served in the history of Pakistan’s judiciary. On 30 June 2005 he became the Chief Justice of Pakistan. At present, Justice Iftikhar is also functioning as Chairman, of the Enrollment Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council and as Chairman, of the Supreme Court Building Committee.
Oath-taking under PCO 1999
After the proclamation of Provisional Constitutional Order, on 26 January 2000 an order Oath of Office (Judges) Order, 2000 was issued that required that judiciary take the oath of office under PCO. Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and a few other judges of the superior judiciary took oath under PCO. After the failure of any court order issued by then Chief Justice Saeed-uz-zaman Siddiqui of annulling the proclamation of emergency, these judges took the oath. Although this oath ceremony is dubbed as controversial soon it was provided immunity by the Parliament in Legal Framework Order, 2002.
Suspension and Reinstatement, 2007
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (Suspension) and Lawyers’ Movement
On 9 March 2007, Chaudhry was suspended by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Iftikhar Chaudhry was summoned to the Army House and was asked to resign in the presence of five Army Generals, including heads of intelligence services. Chaudhry refused to resign so Musharraf decided to file a Presidential reference against Chaudhry for misconduct. Upon Chaudhry’s refusal to resign, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf forwarded the case to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) as per procedure in the constitution of Pakistan.
It was the first time in the 60-year history of the Pakistani Supreme Court that a Chief Justice was suspended. The suspension was made on the grounds of complaints against Chief Justice Chaudhry for violating the norms of judicial propriety, corruption, seeking favors, and misbehaving with senior lawyers. He was also accused of interfering in the working of the executive branch. On the other hand, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry too decided for the first time in the history of Pakistan to challenge Pervez Musharraf and his reference in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf could not swallow this as he had plans to get rid of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by sending the reference to SJC. He did not want Chaudhry to remain, Chief Justice, as he was an independent judge and had blatantly refused to facilitate Musharraf in his plans to get another five-year mandate through Supreme Court as his predecessors had done. Chaudhry sensing that the judges of SJC were doing what was dictated to them by Pervez Musharraf refused to have his case heard in SJC and hence decided to challenge these dubious allegations in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Chaudhry’s petition was taken up by thirteen member bench of the supreme court, headed by Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday. Chaudhry was represented by five top lawyers of Pakistan, known as, Aitzaz Ahsan, Hamid Khan (lawyer), Munir A. Malik, Ali Ahmad Kurd, and Tariq Mehmood. This panel of lawyers of Chaudhry was also termed a ‘Dream Team’, who fought valiantly for Chaudhry, inside and outside the court.
After his suspension, there was unrest in the country with regard to the validity of the allegations against Chaudhry, as well as doubt as to whether Musharraf technically had the power to suspend the Chief Justice under the circumstances. There was a great outpour of the public on roads to greet Chaudhry when he would travel to address Bar Associations. People from all over the country would come only to see a glimpse of a man who had said ‘NO’ to a dictator in a room full of five Generals. His processions would take hours and hours to reach their final destination. But on 4 May 2007, Pakistan was witnessing a glimpse of revolution if not the revolution itself. The rallying point was, of course, Iftikhar Chaudhry. As he headed towards Lahore from the capital Islamabad, millions lined a 250 km-long-highway all the way to catch a glimpse of Iftikhar Chaudhry. An otherwise four-hour journey took 24 hours. Such a spontaneous mass mobilization was unprecedented. On 5 May 2007, Chaudhry with his counsel and politician friend Atizaz Ahsan, who is also a party member of the PPP, reached the Lahore Bar Association in the morning for the dinner, the association was holding in his honor since last night.
On 20 July 2007, Chaudhry was reinstated to his position as Chief Justice in a ruling by the thirteen-member bench of the Pakistani Supreme Court headed by Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday. His counsel of five lawyers represented him against 16 senior lawyers representing the Federation. The ruling combined 25 constitutional petitions filed by various parties but referred most of the issues raised by the 24 petitions not filed by Chaudhry himself to lower courts for extended adjudication. All thirteen of the sitting justices agreed that Musharraf’s action had been illegal, and ten of the thirteen ordered Chaudhry to be reinstated and that he “shall be deemed to be holding the said office and shall always be deemed to have been so holding the same.”
2007 State of Emergency
2007 Pakistani State of Emergency
Chaudhry’s victory was hard to be swallowed, Pervez Musharraf. In his desperation on Saturday, 3 Nov 2007, General Pervez Musharraf, who was the President and Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan at the time, declared a state of emergency and suspended the nation’s constitution and parliament at the same time. He locked all the judges up in order to take revenge on them for giving a judgment in Chaudhry’s favor. The declaration accused the judges of violating article 209 of the Constitution of 1973. Pervez Musharraf in his madness not only put Chaudhry and all the judges under house arrest but also Chaudhry’s young children. His youngest son, Balach, required physiotherapy that too was not provided. His daughter had to take her A’Level exam at home, held under the supervision of the British Council Pakistan.
On 15 November Geo News reported that Chaudhry had ordered the Islamabad Inspector General of Police to take action against his and his family’s house arrest and their possible relocation to Quetta. According to the channel, Chaudhry held the interior secretary, the commissioner, the deputy commissioner, and the assistant commissioner responsible for his house arrest. He said he was still the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the official residence was his by right.
Just after the general elections in February, on 24 March 2008, on his first day of the premiership, Pakistani PM Yousaf Raza Gillani ordered Chaudhry’s release from house arrest.
In October 2008, Chaudhry visited the Supreme Court building.
The Lawyers’ Movement announced a “long march” for the restoration of the judges, especially Chief Justice Iftikhar from 12 to 16 March 2009. The government of Pakistan refused to reinstate the judges and declared section 144 in effect in three of the four provinces of Pakistan thereby forbidding any form of gatherings of the “long march”. Arrangements were made to block all roads and other means of transport to prevent the lawyers from reaching the federal capital, Islamabad. Workers of the main political parties in opposition and the lawyer’s movement as well as other known persons from civil society were arrested. Despite these efforts, the movement continued and was able to break through the blockade in Lahore en route to Islamabad in the night between 15 and 16 March 2009. A few hours later, on the morning of 16 March 2009, the prime minister of Pakistan restored Chaudhary Iftikhar as chief justice of Pakistan through an executive order. after which the opposition agreed to stop the “long march”.
Awards and Honors
In the wake of the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan, on 14 November 2007, the Harvard Law School decided to award its highest honor, the Medal of Freedom, to Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, following the military crackdown the previous week. He becomes the first Pakistani to be presented with such honor and the third person in the world to receive this award other than Nelson Mandela and Oliver Hill.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry formally received the Harvard Law School Medal of Freedom during his visit to the United States in November 2008.
The National Law Journal picked Chaudhry as the lawyer of the year for 2007.
The Association of the Bar of the City of New York granted Chaudhry an honorary membership in the association on 17 Nov. 2008, recognizing him as a “symbol of the movement for judicial and lawyer independence in Pakistan.”
Judges Movement: Judges Restoration – Timeline
Mar 9: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf sacks Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry after he ruled against a privatization deal.
July: Supreme Court reinstates Chaudhry, who appealed against his dismissal.
Nov: Musharraf again sacks Chaudhry and 60 other judges under emergency rule, fearing they might rule against his bid for a second-term presidency.
Mar 9: Sharif and Zardari agree to form a coalition government after winning general elections and vow to reinstate the sacked judges.
Apr 15: Sharif and Zardari meet in Islamabad on the judges issue.
Apr 30: Sharif and Zardari hold talks in Dubai about the judges.
May 13: Nine ministers from Sharif’s PML-N resign after the government defaults on a deadline to reinstate judges.
Aug 5: Zardari and Sharif sign a written agreement to reinstate judges.
Aug 7: Zardari announces that judges will be restored.
Aug 25: Sharif withdraws from the coalition after Zardari reneges on his written pledges to reinstate judges.
Sept 6: Zardari wins presidential election with overwhelming majority.
February 25: Supreme Court disqualifies Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from contesting elections. Sharif urges the nation to rise up against the court order, which he blames on the head of state.
February 26: Thousands of protesters march across Pakistan. The government puts paramilitaries on alert and detains 30 lawmakers.
March 9: The government threatens Sharif with charges of sedition, warning that anyone found guilty could be punishable by life imprisonment.
March 11: Sharif vows to ‘save’ Pakistan as he urges the masses to defy a government clampdown and join a nationwide protest.
March 15: Nawaz defies house arrest and leads long march towards Islamabad.
March 16: Prime Minister Gilani restores Justice Iftikhar as Chief Justice of Pakistan.