Judges challenge IHC judgment in Supreme Court

Petition says conducting departmental examinations after such a long time was against principles of natural justice

Our Correspondent July 23, 2017
PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Nine out of the 18 judges of the Islamabad district judiciary who had failed departmental examination testing their knowledge of criminal, civil and Shariah laws among other subjects, has challenged an Islamabad High Court judgment dismissing their petition before the Supreme Court on Saturday.

The judges, through their counsel Asma Jahangir and Barrister Khurram Hashmi, filed a petition against departmental examinations which had been conducted nearly three years after their initial appointment.

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In the petition, Asma and Hashmi said that conducting departmental examinations after such a long time was against the principles of natural justice. They stated that the judges have now been working for five years and that their probations had already expired.

They further emphasised that their confirmation, as per the rules, hinges upon successful completion of the prescribed training apart from departmental examinations.

However, they said, the judges were not invited for training prescribed for these examinations and were, thus, deprived of their legal right to be fully enabled and prepared to succeed in the exams.

Justice Kayani had noted in his judgment that the petitioners were working as judicial officers for more than four years and their judicial experience was more than the training required to sit for the exams. “The petitioners cannot be allowed to avoid exams merely on the ground that they did not get training.”

In the petition, the judges primarily contended that they have faced discrimination with respect to other judges, additional district judges who were similarly appointed and governed by the Islamabad Judicial Service Rules 2011.

The counsel asserted that these judges were never asked to undergo similar exams prior to their confirmation in service.

The counsel maintained that the judges were told to sit the departmental exams without having been offered the legally mandated training, unlike similarly placed judges, who were sent by the IHC for exclusive three-month-long training before taking charge of their posts.

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They also raised objections regarding the content and scope of the judicial examinations. It is their contention that the scope of the material on which the candidates were examined was widened to include the Punjab Laws, which were not relevant to the Islamabad Capital Territory.

In the judgment, Justice Kayani had stated that the judges have been estopped by their own words and conduct by appearing in their first departmental examination and they could not challenge the same when the results were different from their expectations.

The judges urged the apex court to set aside June 6 judgment of IHC.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2017.

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