SHC CJ’s fate hangs in balance

JCP member raises question about his legal status


Hasnaat Malik September 18, 2021
Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The fate of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh still hangs in balance as one member of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) has raised questions on his legal status after the issuance of his notification as an ad-hoc judge of the top court for a year.

According to the minutes of JCP meeting held on September 9 to consider the appointment of Lahore High Court’s Justice Ayesha Malik as an SC judge, JCP member Justice Maqbool Baqar said the sitting SHC CJ had been appointed as an ad-hoc judge of the apex court but he had refused to accept the decision.

This, he added, raised questions for determination as to what was the status of the SHC CJ’s administrative and judicial orders and what was the status of the orders passed by the benches constituted by him – that was likely to cause another crisis.

Justice Baqar also noted that there was indiscipline in the SHC as well as an ethnic spark.

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Another JCP member pointed out that no reported judgment of the SHC CJ was found on high court’s website for the last couple of months, it was learnt.

Sources told The Express Tribune that there was a difference of legal opinion in the government’s legal minds on the consequences of the presidential notification about the appointment of Justice Sheikh as an ad-hoc judge of the apex court after his refusal to accept the post.

Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan is not in favour of the applicability of Article 206 (2), which says that a judge of a high court who does not accept appointment as an SC judge shall be deemed to have retired from his office.

On such retirement, the judge shall be entitled to receive a pension calculated on the basis of the length of his service and total service, if any, in the service of the country.

The AGP believes that the article does not apply in case the high court judge refuses to become an ad-hoc judge of the SC. He even advised the government not to take any step for this purpose.

However, Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem had contended in the JCP meeting that the article applied in the SHC CJ’s case.

The sources told The Express Tribune that the superior judiciary had yet to give up SHC CJ's matter.

Even senior SC judges are still deliberating on the issue.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed would sit in the Karachi Registry to hear the cases next week and the matter might be considered again.

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The Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) is fully backing the SHC CJ in the matter.
A bar representative said if the government took any adverse step, the SHCBA would challenge the notification in the SC.

A senior official told The Express Tribune that even though the government and judiciary were not keen to take action, but if the working situation in the SHC did not improve, then they would have to make decision.

Similarly, Supreme Court Bar Association President Lateef Afridi his speech on September 9 had also questioned the legal status of SHC CJ after the issuance of a notification by the president of Pakistan.
Despite his refusal, the JCP, by a majority of five against four, had approved the nomination of the SHC CJ as an ad-hoc judge of the apex court on August 10.

The AGP in his opinion had said that the SHC CJ’s consent would be required for his ad-hoc appointment to the SC.

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