The legal stalemate

The attorney general’s desire to see appointment of a female judge be addressed in a unanimous manner is appreciated

September 11, 2021

We have been here. Justice Ayesha Malik’s elevation to the Supreme Court of Pakistan as the first female judge seems to have hit snags. By virtue of merit and as per jurisprudence norms, Justice Ayesha sits petty qualified. The honourable chief justice, his deputy as well as the attorney general and the law minister have endorsed her nomination, but the case has become a victim of head count. Under the Constitution, the Judicial Commission of Pakistan is authorised to recommend a judge to the top court with a majority vote. This is where Justice Ayesha’s case enters a gridlock, as many of the Brother Judges have a different interpretation of the law and precedents, and refuse to accept a junior nominee in their midst.

A large number of lawyers and Bar associations too believe that Justice Ayesha should not be elevated, and they evolve their argument to the precedent of seniority profile. They held protests across the country, and were quite successful in making a mark. The fact that four justices of the Supreme Court opposed her candidature has become a serious debating point among the legal fraternity, as well as the civil society. While one member of the JCP was on leave, it made the vote count go even; deferring the case to another sitting. But, unfortunately, this case is becoming a gender issue, and warrants special consideration from the honourable jurists to resolve it in good faith.

The attorney general’s desire to see the appointment of a female judge be addressed in a unanimous manner is appreciated. And that should have been the case, which could have sent the right signals in terms of empowering a lady justice, who qualifies on merit, too. The argument further went on to advise the JCP to allocate, at least, one seat for a woman judge. But that cannot be done without a constitutional amendment. The stalemate needs to be addressed in a graceful manner, and that is only possible if the Bar representatives and the honourable bench members retire for a threadbare discussion off-the-record, and come out with a consensus. Justice Ayesha stands a case, and should be honoured.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2021.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read