The tenure of Federal Shariat Court (FSC) Chief Justice Noor Muhammad Meskanzai — who was behind the recent landmark decision of Riba-free banking in the country – has come to an end.
Speaking at the farewell reference held in his honour, Justice Meskanzai noted that he was leaving the position with the peace and satisfaction of mind that he had discharged his duties to his very best.
The outgoing judge thanked his colleagues for the praise they had heaped upon him on the occasion.
A large number of judges and lawyers including FSC’s Justice Dr Syed Muhammad Anwar, Justice Khadim Hussain M. Shaikh, Registrar Abdul Qayyum Lehri, Deputy Attorney General Chaudhry Ishtiaq Mehraban and Islamabad High Court Bar Association President Shoaib Shaheen attended the event.
The chief justice remarked that when an employee of the state was relieved of his duties, it is called the day of their retirement.
He added that higher the position that they held, the bigger the questions were that lied ahead of them.
He noted that when he took over the office, there were many issues that required a lot of attention — pending cases most important of them.
In administrative matters, he credited himself with construction of an FSC building in Peshawar.
He pointed out that during his tenure, branch registries of FSC were opened in Multan, Sukkur, Swat and Turbat so that litigants from these remote areas would not have to come to the provincial capitals or Islamabad to submit their applications.
Justice Meskanzai noted that when he took over as the FSC CJ, around 170 cases were pending and more than 400 new cases were registered. He added that more than 500 of these cases were decided.
The judge observed that the biggest challenge was the cases filed for the elimination of Riba that were remanded by the Supreme Court to the FSC.
“I thought there would be an impression that if a case could not be settled in 20 years, then what is the justification for setting up this court?”
Justice Meskanzai expressed his gratitude to Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Supreme Court’s senior judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other judges for bestowing on him such a great honour.
Noting that one could not buy love and compassion, he added that the honour bestowed upon him by the judges of the Supreme Court was the greatest asset of his life.
Last month, a three-judge bench of the FSC, led by Justice Meskanzai, had finally declared that the prohibition of Riba was absolute in all its forms and manifestations according to the injunctions of Islam and in accordance with the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Therefore, it should be eliminated from the country in five years.
“We are of the view that five years period is reasonably enough time for the implementation of our decision completely i.e convert economy of Pakistan into, equitable, asset based, risk sharing and interest-free economy,” read a 298-page FSC judgment.
“Therefore, we would specify the 31st day of December, 2027 on which the decision shall take effect by way of complete elimination of Riba from Pakistan,” it added.