In his final days as Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Umar Ata Bandial made a significant move by reopening corruption cases, sparking controversy. His tenure has been marked by polarizing opinions, exemplified by the Pakistan Bar Council’s boycott of his farewell dinners.
Despite Bandial’s denial of a fractured judiciary, public disputes among judges have marred his legacy. A recent study covering the last three Chief Justices’ tenures suggests a perception of favouritism in judicial decisions. However, Bandial’s legacy isn’t solely defined by controversy. He is acknowledged for his legal acumen and is often described as a ‘soft-spoken’ judge.
As he steps down, the incoming Chief Justice, Qazi Faez Isa, faces the formidable task of unifying the judiciary and reducing the Supreme Court’s politicization. Balancing judicial reform with depoliticizing the court should be a top priority for the future.