Two vacant SC judge posts yet to be filled

Number of pending cases in top court exceeds 51,000


Hasnaat Malik June 19, 2021
PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Though the number of pending cases in the Supreme Court has crossed 51,000, no nomination has been finalised to fill the two vacant posts of judges in the top court.

Justice Faisal Arab retired on November 4, 2020 and Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik retired on April 30 this year.

Generally, the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) considers the names of high court judges to fill the vacant post forthwith after an SC judge’s retirement.

Surprisingly, despite the passage of several months, it is not happening as usual this time.

Two members of the JCP told The Express Tribune that they were unaware as to why the appointment of two SC judges was being delayed.

One member of commission said there was a chance that judges would be elevated each from the Balochistan High Court and Sindh High Court.

The member expects that the nominations will be finalised in the next couple of weeks and the names will be formally initiated by JCP Chairman Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

Lawyer, however, are divided as whether or not the seniority principle should strictly be followed to elevate a judge.

One section says that competency and integrity are more important than seniority in the process.

Pakistan Bar Council representative from Balochistan Muneer Kakar said the CJP had ensured that one judge will be elevated from Balochistan soon.

He expects that the nomination of BHC CJ Jamal Khan Mandokhail as an SC judge will be made soon.

No BHC judge has been elevated to the top court since 2014.

Currently, Justice Qazi Faez Isa is only SC judge who belongs to Balochistan.

According to a fortnight report, 51, 138 cases are pending in the Supreme Court and the number is growing with each passing day.

A lawyer, who representing the state in criminal cases, revealed that they are receiving calls from prisoners’ families about the fixation of petitions as well as criminal appeals.

Currently, the court is hearing jail petitions which were filed in 2016/17. During tenure of ex-chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa, special benches were constituted to clear the backlog of criminal cases.

Senior lawyers believe that full court meetings should be held consistently to evolve a strategy to clear pendency.

The Parliamentary Committee on Judges Appointment has urged the JCP to consider the nomination of females for appointment as judges of superior courts.

A letter was written by the committee 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 the 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 said the commission acknowledged AGP's concerns on the lack of females in the superior judiciary.

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

Different segments of the society have already expressed their concerns over not considering the names of female lawyers for superior court judges.

Only two female Lahore High Court judges are working in the biggest province of the country – Punjab.

No female judge has been elevated to the Supreme Court in the country’s history.

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