Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was born on 12 December 1948 in district Faisalabad. He got his earlier education in Quetta because his father Chaudhry Jan Muhammad, a Police Officer was posted in Quetta. Hence, he was brought up more like a Balochi than a Punjabi.
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has a Bachelors in Arts and Bachelors in Law (LLB) from Jamshoro-Sindh. He joined the bar in 1974. Later, he was enrolled as Advocate of the High Court in 1976 and as an Advocate of the Supreme Court in 1985. In 1989 he was appointed as Advocate General, Balochistan. He was elevated as Additional Judge, Balochistan High Court on 6 November 1990 until 21 April 1999.
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry also remained President of High Court Bar Association, Quetta, and was elected twice as Member of the Bar Council. In 1992 he was appointed as Chairman of Balochistan Local Council Election Authority and thereafter for second term in 1998. He also worked as Chairman, Provincial Review Board for the province of Balochistan and was twice appointed as Chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Balochistan.
On April 22, 1999 he became Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court. Besides remaining as Judge of High Court, he discharged duties as Banking Judge, Judge Special Court for Speedy Trials, Judge Customs Appellate Courts as well as Company Judge. It was during his tenure as Chief Justice of Balochistan that he took personal interest in establishing long awaited Circuit Bench of High Court of Balochistan at Sibi.
He was elevated as Judge of Supreme Court on February 4, 2000. Besides functioning as Judge of the Supreme Court, he served as Chairman, Enrolment Committee of Pakistan Bar Council.
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry became the 20th Chief Justice of Pakistan when he took oath of the office on 30th June, 2005. He attended 22nd Biennial Congress on the Law of the World, held in Beijing & Shanghai, China in September, 2005. He participated in the International Conference and Showcase on Judicial Reforms held in Philippines in November, 2005. He also visited United Kingdom in February, 2006 in connection with the UK-Pakistan Judicial Protocol on Children.
On March 9, 2007, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was suspended by President Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf also filed a Presidential reference against him for misconduct. President Pervez Musharraf forwarded the case to Supreme Judicial Council as per procedure in 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 favours and misbehaving with senior lawyers. He was also accused of interfering in the working of the executive branch.
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.
On May 5, 2007, Chaudhry with his counsel and politician Ch. Atizaz Ahsan, who is also the party member of the PPP, traveled from Islamabad to Lahore to address the Lahore High Court Bar Association. Demonstrations of support along the route slowed his motorcade to the point that it took him 25 hours to reach the dinner the association was holding in his honor.
On July 20, 2007, Chaudhry was reinstated to his position as Chief Justice in a ruling by the thirteen-member bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday. He was represented by Aitzaz Ahsan, Shahid Saeed, Gohar Khan and Nadeem Ahmed [PLD 2007 SC 578] 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 was 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.
On Saturday, Nov 3, 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. The declaration accused the judges of violating article 209 of the Constitution of 1973.
On 15 November Justice Iftikhar Muhammad 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. He 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 general elections in February, on March 24, 2008, on his first day of premiership the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani ordered Justice Chaudhry's release from house arrest. In October 2008, Justice Chaudhry visited the Supreme Court building.
The Lawyers' Movement announced a long march for the restoration of the judges, especially Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry 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 Islamabad. Workers of the main political parties in opposition and the lawyers’ movement as well as other known persons from the 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 March 16, 2009, the prime minister of Pakistan restored Iftikahar Muhammad Chaudhary as chief justice of Pakistan through an executive order after which the opposition agreed to stop the long march.
In the wake of the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan, on November 14, 2007, the Harvard Law School decided to award its highest honour, 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 honour. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad 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 Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as the lawyer of the year for 2007. The Association of the Bar of the City of New York granted Justice Chaudhry an honorary membership in the association on Nov. 17, 2008, recognizing him as a symbol of the movement for judicial and lawyer independence in Pakistan.
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.
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry Retired on 13 December 2013 as Chief Justice.