New law being mulled to appoint graft court judges

Legal minds within govt split over inclusion of lawyers in category

Hasnaat Malik June 06, 2021


The federal government is considering introducing new legislation for the appointment of judges of accountability courts.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the government was planning to amend the law to consider the names of retired judges and lawyers for their appointment.

However, it has been learnt that top government legal minds were divided as to whether or not lawyers should be also be included to qualify as accountability court judges.

The sources said Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem wanted to add lawyers to the category. He is also being backed by two senior PTI lawyers.

One section within the government is expressing its apprehensions over the inclusion of lawyers.

They are of the view that the superior judiciary will also not support this proposal.

Therefore, they believe, only retired judges should be qualified for appointment.

A senior PTI lawyer said to support the legal community in the Justice Qazi Faez Isa case, the government must also mention advocates for their qualification as accountability court judges.

Currently, the chief justices of the respective high courts send the names of three session court judges for a vacant post. Later, the government selects one name for the appointment.

However, one official revealed that sometimes a chief justice of a high court sends only one name for a vacant post.

Due to the consultation over bringing a new law, the appointment of accountability court judges is being delayed.

To conclude trials in accountability courts, there is a need to appoint retired judges who could work under pressure in the cases of political individuals.

Also read: K-P to get more accountability courts

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan had sent names for appointment to 14 accountability courts of the province and some other ex-cadre courts.

The LHC had sent letters to the law ministry on April 5 and May 20 last, respectively, in which judges had been nominated for ex-cadre courts, including three existing as well as five newly-established accountability courts of Lahore.

The LHC registrar’s office has also issued a statement, wherein it wad clarified that the delay in the appointment of accountability court judges was because of the government.

The incumbent LHC CJ is due to retire next month.

On March 31, the LHC had transferred 25 district and sessions judges in the province, including those hearing corruption cases against Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and other leaders of the PML-N.

The sources said the government was not satisfied with the names forwarded by LHC chief justice.

On July 8 last year, the top court had ordered the federal government to immediately appoint judges at five vacant accountability courts while proposing to establish at least 120 accountability courts in the country to deal with 1,226 pending cases.

Accountability courts were established under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 to adjudicate corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau within 30 days.

However, the bench had noted that some corruption cases had been pending for even 15 to 20 years.