Despite passage of a couple of months, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) is unable to fulfill its constitutional obligation to nominate its member for the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP), the constitutional forum that has a key role in appointment and elevation of superior courts judges.
Two-year term of the PBC representative in the JCP, Akhtar Hussain, ended two months ago but the apex regulatory body of lawyers has not taken any step to nominate a new member for the JCP.
Due to delay in the nomination of its member, no lawyers’ representative attended the last JCP meeting in which the commission discussed the proposal regarding elevation of two high courts judges to the SC.
However, the PBC did pass a resolution against possible elevation of a junior Sindh High Court (SHC) judge to the apex court and also announced a complete lawyers strike all over the country on July 13.
It is learnt that even during its last meeting, the majority of the JCP members also expressed concern over lawyers’ inability to nominate their members for the commission.
Currently, the total number of the PBC office bearers is 23 and almost two third of them belong to the Asma Jahangir Group, also known as the Independent Lawyers Group.
PBC member from Balochistan Munir Kakar, who belongs to the rival Professional Lawyers Group, said it is a big failure of lawyers’ apex regulatory body that it is unable to fulfill its constitutional obligation.
Kakar alleged that the Independent Group is delaying the matter in order to gain political objectives. He said the Independent Group should take steps on principles rather than political gains.
According to sources, the Independent Group has nominated Ahsan Bhoon as its presidential candidate for the next Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) annual election scheduled for the last week of October.
There are three PBC candidates who can be appointed to the JCP as a member.
These are Yasin Azad, Akhtar Hussain and Yousuf Laghari.
A member of the Professional Lawyers Group claimed that Independent Group, which is in majority in PBC, is delaying the nomination of JCP members in order to get support of these lawyers in the SCBA election. The group does not want to take any step which could annoy any of the three senior lawyers.
A member of the Independent Group, however, completely rejected the rival group's allegation regarding delay in nomination of a JCP member for political reasons. He revealed that a PBC full house meeting will be held in this regard soon.
According to the sources, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed may summon the JCP meeting in next few weeks to consider the elevation of one SHC judge to the apex court. The JCP on July 13 deferred the matter regarding elevation of Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar – a junior SHC judge – to the SC
A PBC member, Abid Zubairi, has written a letter to PBC Vice Chairman Khushdil Khan for holding a meeting regarding nomination of its member to the commission.
"I am writing to you as a member of the PBC from Sindh that there is no member nominated by the PBC on the JCP. Our seat is vacant and we are failing in our duty to perform our constitutional duty. The selection of judges is one of the most important functions under the constitution.
“The same relates to the right of access to justice and the independence of the judiciary. Our stand viz a viz the issues of selection of judges cannot be effectively conveyed in view of the recent reports about the prospective elevation of judges to the Supreme Court," said the letter.
"With respect, mere issuance of resolutions is not sufficient. Therefore I urge the PBC to immediately nominate a senior lawyer of repute to the JC so that our views are brought to the notice of the learned members of the JC. We must also request the JC to delay the meeting till such time a member is nominated," he added.
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