Pakistan Bar Council seeks robust accountability of judges

Published: March 24, 2018
Justice. PHOTO: AFP

Justice. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has decided to approach the Supreme Court with a plea to make accountability of judges more effective.

The council also decided to hold a special session with bar council representatives, who are members of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP), to get their input to ensure transparency in the process of judges’ appointments.

The PBC’s special committee on Judicial and Electoral Reforms held a meeting on March 21 under the chairmanship of Raheel Kamran Sheikh.

The meeting had taken decisions on two critical issues: transparency in the appointment of judges and their accountability.

Regarding transparency in the process of appointment of judges in the superior judiciary, the committee decided that a meeting/conference of all present and former representatives of the bar councils, who are or have been members of the Judicial Commission, be held.

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The conference would help understand how members have been participating in the process and on the basis of their input formulate proposals for introducing transparency in the process of judicial appointments under Article 175A of the Constitution and place them before the council for passing an appropriate resolution and taking necessary action.

The committee will finalise the date for the conference in the next meeting to be held in early April, minutes of the meeting indicate.

Regarding effectiveness of judicial accountability, the committee decided to propose and circulate a draft of the constitutional petition to be filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of the council among all members of the PBC.

The petition would seek a) disclosure of the information, inter alia, regarding the total number of complaints/reference filed and decided by the SJC; in how many complaints the SJC has issued show-cause notices; how many judges have retired whilst complaints against them were pending; b) expeditious disposal of all complaints pending with the SJC.

“The draft of the petition shall be circulated amongst all Members of the Council and a request for the Council Meeting shall be made for consideration and approval of the draft for filing of the petition,” it is further stated.

Regarding effective accountability of the judges of lower courts, Syed Amjad Shah, a committee member, has proposed that committees should be formed in all provinces and ICT to coordinate with high courts and ensure expeditious decision on all complaints filed against the judges of the subordinate judiciary.

In the next meeting, Syed Amjad Shah will share details of the model of such a committee that has been formed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and is stated to be fairly effective.

The PBC’s committee has also resolved that all members will propose measures to be adopted to improve relationship between the bench and the bar before the next meeting.

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On electoral reforms for bar councils and bar associations, it has been resolved that after consultation with other members of the bar council, former and servingmembers of provincial bar councils and present and/or former office-bearer of the bar associations, all members of the committee should make proposals for the electoral reforms within 30 days and a joint meeting with the rules committee shall be held thereafter to propose amendments in the Election Rules.

“In the next meeting of the committee, all members of the committee shall propose measures to be adopted for improving the role and image of advocates in society.”

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