Constitutional petition: SC suspends LHC order re-fixing judges’ seniority

Published: December 10, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court suspended the Lahore High Court’s administrative order on Friday regarding the re-fixing of the seniority of high court judges.

The two-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, took up the constitutional petition filed by an LHC serving judge, Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan, against Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah’s November 26 administrative order. The petition was moved by senior counsels Hamid Khan and Rasheed A Rizvi.

The bench also issued notices to the federal government, LHC registrar and three high court judges, Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu. The case was later adjourned till the first week of January.

The petitioner contended that he was appointed as an additional judge of the high court on February 17, 2010. His seniority as a high court judge was fixed with other members of the batch appointed through a notification issued on February 17 in accordance with his age and remained so ever since.

However, the petitioner stated that the LHC CJ in his administrative order dated November 26 relegated seniority to judges younger than him, meaning that previously he was shown to be senior to Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, Justice Syed Mazahar Akbar Naqvi ad Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu. Now, he is being shown junior to all of them on the basis of an administrative order.

“The CJ’s order has caused grave miscarriage of justice. It is most unfortunate when a judge of a superior court is himself deprived of justice at the hands of his own colleagues. It would set a bad precedent and create an unfortunate perception about the working of the judicial organ of the state.”

The petition termed the CJ’s order to be illegal, without lawful authority or justification and of no legal effect.

He stated that the date of administering oath was never taken as a factor for determining seniority.

“The chief justice of the LHC failed to provide reasonable opportunity of hearing to the petitioner while deciding the matter … and hence the principle of natural justice … has been violated.”

He also maintained that the learned chief justice had disregarded the requirement of due process as enshrined under Article 10A of the Constitution.

The petition stated that the matter of inter seniority had been decided by the former chief justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmad on the representation of three of judges or one of them. Therefore, they had no locus standi to file fresh representation in the matter already decided.

“The order … is violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the Petitioner under Articles 10A and 25 of the Constitution.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2016.

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