Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice (CJ) Muhammad Ameer Bhatti gave his consent on Thursday to the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik as a Supreme Court judge.
Sources revealed to The Express Tribune that Justice Bhatti officially told the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) that he had no objection on the nomination of Justice Ayesha for her elevation to the SC.
Justice Ayesha is currently under consideration to fill the seat that will fall vacant after the retirement of Justice Mushir Alam. She currently ranks fourth on the LHC judges’ seniority list. She became an LHC judge in March 2012.
In case of her elevation, Justice Ayesha will work as a SC judge until June 2031. She will also become the CJP after the retirement of Justice Yahya Afridi in January 2030.
Justice Ameer Bhatti’s consent is significant, particularly given the lawyer's agitation and strike against the appointment of Justice Ayesha as a SC judge. The bar wants judges’ elevation on the basis of seniority.
However, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan invited representatives of superior bars to give objective criteria regarding the appointment of superior courts' judges.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has already announced to boycott SC proceedings on September 9.
There is a chance that LHC senior puisne judge Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan will also not object to the elevation of the junior judge to SC.
However, a senior lawyer stated that the consent of senior judges is not mandatory for the elevation. He further questioned whether the senior judges of the Sindh High Court had consented to the appointment of junior judge Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar for the SC.
Sources revealed to The Express Tribune that a questionnaire was sent to senior LHC judges, wherein the JCP asked about their health issues and details of medication being used by them. The lawyers’ opinions are currently divided on the questioning of senior LHC judges.
One section of lawyers maintained that the JCP must evaluate the health conditions of the nominee before the nomination. However, the other faction believed that the questioning was a source of embarrassment for senior judges. They further stated that if the judges can work in a high court, then they should be eligible for elevation to the SC.
Meanwhile, Justice Qazi Faez Isa may abstain to give his opinion on the nomination of Justice Ayesha because she worked as his junior partner in the same legal firm.
Justice Isa will be travelling abroad on Friday morning for the surgery of his wife Sarina Isa and will be unable to attend the JCP meeting on September 9.
Allegedly, the superior judiciary wants to counter the criticism it is facing because of the elevation of an SHC junior judge, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, to the SC, as well as the nomination of SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh as an ad hoc judge of the apex court.
Though the seniority principle is not being followed in Justice Ayesha Malik's case, it is being supported by a vast segment of the society as she would become the first female judge to work in the top court in the country’s history.
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