JCP urges nominee from ex-FATA for PHC judge

PHC CJ withdraws his earlier recommendation


Hasnaat Malik February 01, 2019
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) has suggested to the Peshawar High Court (PHC) chief justice to nominate a suitable candidate from the former Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) for consideration for appointment as a PHC judge.

The JCP is a constitutional body, regarding the appointment of judges in the superior courts. It was the first meeting of the CJP chaired by the new Chief Justice of Pakistan, Asif Saeed Khosa. The meeting was called to consider the appointment of two PHC judges.

PHC Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had proposed four names against the vacancy of two additional judges. The recommended names were Zarqaish Sani, Tariq Yousafzai, Ahmed Ali, and Muhammad Yousaf Khan.

The names were considered in a JCP subcommittee, which met on Wednesday. At the outset of the JCP meeting on Thursday, sources told The Express Tribune, the PHC chief justice decided to withdraw the four names.

The sources revealed that the commission members, including Chief Justice Khosa, suggested to the PHC chief justice to consider a suitable nominee from the ex-Fata region, as the PHC’s original jurisdiction had been extended to ex-Fata through a constitutional amendment last year.

At present, there 18 judges, who are working in the high court in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, against its total strength of 20. It is learnt that the judges’ numbers are being increased after the expansion of its jurisdiction to ex-Fata.

The PHC has conveyed to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government that it needs more judges. “After the merger of Fata with K-P, the PHC has asked the provincial government to increase its strength judges from 20 to 25 judges,” Chief Justice Seth had told reporters on January 2.

Ali Afridi Advocate, who belongs to the former Fata, told The Express Tribune that after the extension in the PHC jurisdiction, institution of cases in high court has increased. He added that 36,921 cases were pending in the PHC till December last year.

According to Advocate Afridi, more than 70 lawyers from the former Fata, were practising in the PHC. Likewise, a number of session judges belonged to former tribal region were also working in the province.

Newly elected Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Amjad Shah believed that the numbers of judges should be increased in the PHC. However, he holds the view the judges should be appointed on the basis of competency, rather than seniority.

According to other reports, preliminary consultation has also commenced for the candidates for the post of additional judges in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), where the number of judges has also been increased from 7 to 10.

Currently, four judges are working at the IHC, where pendency of the cases is more than 15,000. No judge from to Sindh or Balochistan is currently working in the high court in the federal capital. However, the Islamabad bar demands that the new judges should be appointed from the local bar.

Furthermore, the retirement of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has left one seat vacant at the Supreme Court. Here too, legal experts remain divided on criterion for the elevation of judges. A group of lawyers argues that elevation should be made on the basis of competency and not on the grounds of seniority.

The superior courts bars have also been demanding continuously that the JCP rules 2010 should be amended. They believe that discretionary powers of the chief justice should be restructured in the process of judges’ appointment.

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