Lawyers in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) have demanded that judges be appointed at the Supreme Appellate Court (SAC) from amongst senior lawyers instead of reappointing retired judges at the court.
Supreme Appellate Court Bar Association (SACBA) Representative Advocate Shehbaz Ali said the apex court has been dysfunctional for the last four months after the post of two of its judges were left vacant. Justice Mohammad Yaqub and Justice Jafar Shah of the SAC retired in June earlier this year after their three-year contracts expired.
Advocate Ali urged the government to immediately fill the vacant posts and also called for making necessary changes in the Governance Order 2009. He reiterated what the SACBA declared a day earlier, that the Minister of Kashmir Affairs is the “biggest impediment” in the way of appointment of judges on merit at the SAC. He said the governance order needs to be amended to curtail the ministry’s role to ensure that decisions for G-B are made in Gilgit and not in Islamabad. “If ministry’s role is intact as before, this will go against the concept of the Self Empowerment Order,” he added.
Ali said that the trend of appointment of retired judges in the highest judiciary should also be discouraged and merit should be followed.
Moreover, he said the elevation of judges from lower courts to the apex court was illegal and unconstitutional as the lower court judges are permanent employees while those hired in the apex court are on contracts. “You cannot just change the status of their jobs from permanent to contract, which is unprecedented,” he said, adding that the “concept of elevation” is applicable where all the judges are permanent, as in other provinces such as Punjab and Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2012.
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