Lawmakers surprised at judicial picks

Says less well-regarded judges were given preferential treatment


Hasnaat Malik October 27, 2017
The Lahore High Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Judges Appointments has observed that a ‘pick-and-choose method’ has been employed by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) while making recommendations for one-year service extensions to additional judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

According to the committee’s report, which is also available with The Express Tribune, the committee has expressed surprise that the chief justice of a court, who should be in the best position to recommend extensions or otherwise, first recommended all 14 additional judges for confirmation, but later changed his opinion on seven of the additional judges without recording any reasons.

The committee meeting was held on October 25 under the chairmanship of Muhammad Arshad Khan Leghari, and five other members attended the meeting.

The committee also took note of Justice Gulzar Ahmad’s findings on judgments authored by the additional judges.

Justice Jawwad Hassan and Justice Abdul Aziz were ranked ‘good’, while Justice Mujahid Mustaqeem Ahmed, Justice Abdul Sattar, Justice Habibullah Amir, Justice Asjad Javaid Gujral, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, Justice Muhammad Ali, Justice Tariq Iftikhar Ahmed, Justice Mudassir Khalid Abbasi, and Justice Abdul Rahman Aurangzeb were ranked ‘satisfactory’.

PBC accuses judicial commission of nepotism

It was further found that the judgments authored by Justice Ahmad Raza Gilani and Justice Muhammad Bashir Paracha were not up to the mark.

The committee noted that one LHC judge whose judgments were ‘average’ has been recommended for extensions, but the commission has dropped five judges having ‘satisfactory' judgments.

The committee has observed that a ‘pick-and-choose method’ appeared to have been employed on additional judges that had satisfactory judgments, which is in violation of Article 25 of the Constitution, besides good governance policies and practices and universal principles of distributive justice that equals should be equally treated.

The committee also discussed the remarks about the competence and integrity of three recommended judges. The committee suggested additional parameters and wanted more details in cases of negative remarks.

The committee also did not consider it appropriate to recommend for confirmation or otherwise three judges about whom negative remarks were on record. “Therefore, the committee decided that the Judicial Commission may be requested to review the cases of three additional judges,” says the report. It is further stated that the committee also summoned senior ISI and IB officials for the briefing.

Parliamentary panel rejects JCP recommendations

The committee unanimously endorsed one year extension of four LHC judges – Justice Mujahid Mustaqeem Ahmed, Justice Tariq Iftikhar Ahmed, Justice Asjad Javaid Gujral, and Justice Jawwad Hassan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon and PBC executive committee member Hafeezur Rehman appreciated the decision of the parliamentary panel. They were particularly appreciative of the committee for referring the matter back to the Judicial Commission and asking it to review their earlier recommendations and co-share with the committee the reasons for not recommending extension or confirmation of the seven dropped additional judges. “As the decision of the parliamentary committee is in line with the views of the legal fraternity, the PBC feels indebted to them,” they added.

The PBC also deplored that the significant constitutional role of the parliamentary committee has been undermined by the Supreme Court through a judgment which needs to be reviewed. They have convened a joint meeting of representatives of all bar councils to consider filing a review petition on the SC verdict in the Munir Hussain Bhatti case.

JCP advises against extension in tenure of seven judges

The JCP, on October 12, recommended one-year extensions for Justice Mujahid Mustaqeem Ahmed, Justice Tariq Iftikhar Ahmad, Justice Asjad Javaid Ghural, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, Justice Jawad Hassan, Justice Muzamil Akhtar Shabir, and Justice Chaudhry Abdul Aziz.

The commission dropped the names of Justice Muhammad Bashir Paracha, Justice Abdul Sattar, Justice Habibullah Amir, Justice Mudassir Khalid Abbasi, Justice Ahmad Raza Gilani, Justice Muhammad Ali, and Justice Abdul Rahman Aurangzeb.

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