LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday removed an objection of non-maintainability on the petitions of two civil judges who challenged administrative orders of their suspension.
The petition was consequently admitted for regular hearing. The registrar of the LHC had objected to the petitions, saying they were non-maintainable. However, the single-member bench which took up the matter on Thursday removed the objection. The case was sent to the LHC chief justice to be heard before an appropriate bench.
Petitioners Shehzad Aslam and Shanawaz Khichi had filed these petitions. In support of the petition, Advocate Tipu Salman Makhdoom, who represented Shehzad, said the Supreme Court had earlier overruled judgments of the high court which barred writ petitions against judges’ orders.
The apex court ruled in case PLD 2016 SC 961, Chuadhry Muhammad Akram vs Registrar Islamabad High Court Etc, that an administrative order of a high court judge or judges can be challenged through a writ.
This latest judgment of the Supreme Court led to the resignation of one of its own judges. Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman resigned based on the appointments he had made at the Islamabad High Court when he was chief justice.
In the petition, Tipu maintained his client was functioning as a Lahore 1st Class civil judge and was suddenly made an OSD on June 28, 2016, the day the incumbent Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took oath.
He submitted that there were no complaints against him and his Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs) in 14 years of service were excellent. The petition stated that there were adverse remarks on only of the reports for the period from March 15, 2011 to September 12, 2011 and September 13, 2011 to December 31, 2011. He added these remarks were obliterated by the expunge committee.
On August 19, 2015, a provincial judicial selection board recommended the promotions of civil judges, but it was deferred. He said the committee was directed to submit a report on the matter within three weeks.
He said the committee, instead of submitting its report within three weeks, formed another subcommittee consisting of five sitting and as many retired district and sessions judges.
Makhdoom said the subcommittee gave its recommendations about his client, categorising him as a corrupt judicial officer. He added his client, along with others, was terminated without being given an opportunity to defend their position.
The counsel argued that subcommittee members could not provide recommendations for promotions of judges who never worked under them. He said none of these serving or retired DSJs ever worked with his client, hence they could not make any recommendations about his performance.
He said the LHC CJ held a meeting with his client and other OSD judges and ensured that he will get their cases rechecked by various investigative agencies. However, nothing to that effect reflected on the record.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2017.