ISLAMABAD: Justice Amir Hani Muslim of the Supreme Court, known as an outspoken and courageous judge, is retiring on March 31.
Justice Hani is at number three in the seniority list and being considered as one of those judges who is leaving behind his legacy by authoring landmark judgments for streamlining the civil service structure of the country.
Thousands of federal and provincial governments’ employees have been either demoted or repatriated to their parents departments due to his rulings during the last four years.
His departure will be a sigh of relief for many civil servants, who are still illegally occupying different positions. The outgoing judge is still adjudicating cases regarding illegal appointments in different departments, especially in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Till date, the courtroom would be jam-packed, with senior civil servants seeking redressal of their cases. The majority of them are eagerly waiting his retirement.
Justice Hani was appointed as the Sindh High Court in August 2002 and was among those judges, who refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) of November 2007. Justice Hani was elevated as the Supreme Court judge in February 2011.
In September 2016, Justice Hani annulled dozens of appointments in the Islamabad High Court as illegal, and observed that the then chief justice and high court’s administration committee have completely disregarded their mandate in making these appointments.
In view of his verdict, lawyers in the federal capital filed complaints against two superior courts judges in the Supreme Judicial Council. Following the impact of his judgment, SC judge Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman also tendered his resignation.
In May 2013, he authored a comprehensive judgment, wherein all out-of-turn promotions, deputations, absorptions and reappointments were declared as illegal in Sindh.
The judge, in 2013 SMCR 1752, defined the parameters of deputation, absorption and reappointment of civil servants. He also declared that “no police personnel or civil servant is entitled to out-of-turn promotion on account of gallantry award or otherwise”.
Later, he initiated the proceedings for the implementation of the 2013 verdict in Sindh and streamlining the civil service structure. Likewise, contempt notices were issued to relevant officers regarding non-implementation of the judgment in different provincial departments.
Last year, a bench led by Justice Hani initiated proceedings regarding compliance of its verdict in the governments at the centre and in other three provinces. The compliance reports were sought by different federal and provincial departments.
In July, the Punjab police told the Supreme Court that it had withdrawn 10,884 out-of-turn promotions of officers in different ranks. The IG Punjab submitted that out-of-turn promotions granted to 66 DSPs had been withdrawn.
Later, the senior police official challenged Justice Hani’s verdict. Interestingly, they hired renowned lawyers like Khawaja Haris, Asma Jahangir, Ali Zafar, Malik Qayyum, Hamid Khan, etc., to plead their cases but their review petitions were rejected.
Likewise, around 40 officials in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) have already been repatriated to their parent departments due to his bench’s proceedings.
Last year, the outgoing judge initiated proceedings over transfers and postings of the Police Service of Pakistan’s officers in the Federal Investigation Agency (FJA). The matter is sub judice.
Last week, he authored a comprehensive verdict on the provision of clean water in Sindh.
Last year, Justice Hani also restrained all four provincial chief ministers to appoint assistant commissioners on the quota system.
“I will say Justice Amir Hani Muslim did a ‘Jihad’ because the judgments authored by him will go a long way in bringing about stability and structural strength in the civil service,” says Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali while commenting on his efforts for the betterment of the service structure in the country.
He told The Express Tribune from now on that there would be transparency in postings and transfers, and favouritism would be done away with.
“Ad hocism will be done away with and there will be permanent appointments. Out-of-turn promotions harbour discontent. These are also not possible, now.”
The AGP says his [Justice Hani’s] directives on the provision of clean water would be a turning point in the lives of the people of Sindh.
“Justice Hani has acute sense of justice and grip over the law. He will be remembered for his pro-underdog approach.”
He says that the federal government is committed to fully comply with the SC judgments on the betterment of the service structure.
However, senior lawyers, who are representing several aggrieved officials, believe that Justice Hani’s judgments should not have retrospective effects; otherwise, employees would be demoralised.