Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Pakistan's Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry have been awarded the prestigious International Jurists Award 2012.
Yadav, former defence minister and ex-chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, was selected for the award for his unflinching "contribution to the advancement of the bar and the bench."
"His support to the development of the legal fraternity is unparalleled in the world," said the citation, read out at the International Conference of Jurists on Rule of Law, yesterday evening.
Yadav was, however, not present to receive the award. Justice Chaudhry received the award from Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court of the UK, for his "unique and tremendous contribution in the field of administration of justice and for the tireless and fearless endeavours towards administration of justice in Pakistan against all odds."
Shortly before Justice Chaudhry received the award, two persons barged into the auditorium at the Hotel Court House raising slogans against killings of Shias in Pakistan.
"I accept this award with profound gratitutde on behalf of the Judiciary of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan who had struggled for the independence of Judiciary." Justice Chaudhry said, in a brief statement.
"The protest indicated that the freedom of speech is live and well." Lord Phillips, referring to the protest demonstration said, while presenting the award.
Referring to corruption, one of the topics discussed at the conference, Lord Phillips made an indirect reference to social activist Anna Hazare's movement against corruption in India without naming him. "India was in lead to stamp out corruption. Unfortunately it did not happen." He said at the comference.
In his address, Adish C Aggarwala, senior advocate and President of the International Council of Jurists, called upon Jurists from all over the world to stand united and make a "sincere effort to bring about reforms and accountability in the system of administration of justice.
"We shall re-dedicate ourselves to the service of society, and ensure easy, faster and equal justice to all." He said.