Lawyers in Multan have filed an application in the Multan District Bar Association and the Multan High Court Bar Association demanding that the decision of the judicial commission for appointment of judges to remove Justice Zafarullah Khan Khakwani and Justice James Joseph from the 53-member bench of the Lahore High Court be reviewed. Advocate Rao Zahid said the petitions carry signatures of more than 150 lawyers in south Punjab.
This is reflective of the discrimination against south Punjab, he said. “We want to know the reasons why the judicial commission wants to remove them.”
According to an official notification, the judicial commission for appointment of judges had decided in the annual review session for the evaluation of judges, that Justice Zafarullah Khan Khakwani and Justice James Joseph, both hailing from south Punjab, will be removed from the Lahore High Court bench on March 29.
The news was not received well. Advocate Shahbaz Gurmani said the judicial commission has been biased against south Punjab for five years. The commission has terminated the services of seven honourable judges from south Punjab serving on Lahore High Court. “This reeks of discrimination against the people of south Punjab.” He said almost 80 cases decided by the two judges had been challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and all the appeals had been rejected by the Supreme Court.
Around a dozen lawyers gathered at the district kutchery and held a small demonstration in which they demanded a review of the judicial commission’s decision. The lawyers recalled that Justice Shah Khawar and Justice Sohail Bhatti, also from south Punjab, had been removed in 2015. The judicial commission had offered no plausible objections to their performance, he said.
Gurmani said there was also discrimination against minorities. “This move lessens representation of minorities in the judiciary. Judges from minority communities have always served the judiciary on merit and with patriotic zeal.” The protesting lawyers claimed that members of the judicial commission were in cahoots with certain political parties. Advocate Fahim Akhtar said if the commission’s decision was not reviewed, “we will expose the coterie of judges sitting in high courts and the Supreme Court of Pakistan and their relations with the ruling political parties”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2016.
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