The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) has declined to further extend services of the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) two additional judges – Justice James Joseph and Justice Zafarullah Khan Khakwani – whose tenure is set to expire on March 22.
The JCP’s Wednesday meeting chaired by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Anwar Zaheer Jamali was convened to consider confirmation of six additional judges of the LHC.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the JCP recommended confirmation of four judges –Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza, Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, Justice Shahid Jamil Khan and Justice Faisal Zaman Khan. However, the commission refused to extend tenure of Justice Joseph and Justice Khakwani.
Both the judges have given their services for two years. After the non-extension of Justice Joseph, the superior judiciary would be bereft of the representation of any judge belonging to a minority community.
More than 150 judges have been appointed in the superior courts since March 2009. However, only two of them belonged to a minority community – a situation on which Pakistan Bar Council’s (PBC) executive member Ahsan Boon expressed concern, while talking to The Express Tribune.
Tussle with the parliament
According to the Constitution’s Article 175-A – introduced through the 18th amendment – the JCP works under the chairmanship of the CJP and comprises the federal law minister, four senior-most judges, the attorney general of Pakistan, a retired judge and a representative of the PBC.
The JCP sends its proposals regarding appointment and confirmation of superior court judges to the parliamentary committee on judges’ appointment. However, the committee has not held any meetings since last October as it is protesting against being turned into a ‘rubber stamp’ by the JCP.
A member of the parliamentary committee, Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk, told The Express Tribune that the panel did not want to become a ‘post office’ in the superior court judges’ appointment process. The previous process of judges’ appointment was much better than the current one, he said.
The PBC Vice Chairman Barrister Farogh Naseem, however, expressed reservations over role of the panel in appointment of judges and said the procedure is not fair because the composition of the eight-member bipartisan committee is not just.
“I challenge the merit of the committee’s composition. Parliamentarians who can play an effective role because of their understanding and experience have not been made its members,” he said.
On the other hand, Supreme Court Bar Association president Ali Zafar strongly advocates the effective role of the committee in judges’ appointment.
The SCBA president has already proposed a constitutional amendment for making the parliamentary panel ‘effective’.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2016.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ