Body for appointing judges must be ‘further empowered’

NA panel deems it necessary for candidates applying for high court slots to undergo emotional test


Our Correspondent June 03, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

A parliamentary committee on Wednesday recommended further empowering the body formed for the appointment of judges.

The National Assembly's Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which met with MNA Riaz Fatyana in the chair, presented its recommendations to make the process of appointing high court judges more effective.

Among them was ensuring the receipt of online applications and conducting internet tests.

Candidates should not only be tested for their intelligence but also for their emotional response.

At least three candidates should be shortlisted for a judge's seat.

The shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by five senior judges.

Candidates should be asked for their tax returns, assets and details of the civil and criminal cases they fought in courts as lawyers.

Expressing his views on the matter, the committee's chairman said a judge, who had to decide matters like a person's life and death and possibly the fate of a prime minister, must be emotionally strong apart from being skilled and educated.

He added that the educational eligibility of a high court judge at the time of their appointment must be determined.

MNA Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha, a member of the committee, suggested seeking the details of a candidate’s tax returns, assets and the cases they fought in courts.

Another member, Mahmood Bashir Virk, recommended empowering the parliamentary body for judges’ appointment and striking off the condition on it to present its recommendations within 14 days.

The committee also recommended setting a deadline for filling the vacant posts of judges.

The law ministry informed the committee that presently, there were four vacant judges posts at the Islamabad High Court, 10 at the Lahore High Court, six at the Sindh High Court, one at the Balochistan High Court and five at the Peshawar High Court.

Read more: JCP asked to appoint females as superior courts’ judges

The participants of the meeting also discussed the process of elections of the bar associations and the district-wise representation in them.

They recommended that instead of holding elections every year, bar associations should conduct their polls once after every two years in the mid of December.

The time allocated to candidates to run their campaigns should be three weeks.

Bar councils should consider increasing their seats.

A day earlier, it was learnt that the Parliamentary Committee on Judges Appointment had urged the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) to consider the nomination of females for appointment as judges of superior courts.

A letter was written by the Parliamentary Committee on Judges Appointment to the JCP through its secretary who is the incumbent Supreme Court Registrar.

One member of the committee told The Express Tribune that women and minority communities were the weakest segment of society, therefore, their representation must be ensured in the bench.

It is also learnt that during the meeting regarding appointment of Lahore High Court judges, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan had also raised the issue about representation of females in the bench.

Sources revealed that the commission acknowledged AGP's concerns regarding less representation of females in the superior judiciary.

He has already nominated female lawyers as well as advocates belonging to the minority communities for their appointment as law officers to his office.

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