JCP snubs five judges nominated by CJP

Justice Isa contradicts with SC statement about proceedings


Hasnaat Malik July 28, 2022
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) on Thursday -- by a majority five to four votes -- did not approve the elevation of five high court judges nominated by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to the Supreme Court.
However, contradictions have surfaced about the outcome of the JCP meeting.

The Supreme Court has issued a statement that read: "After [a] detailed discussion, it was proposed by the JCP chairman to defer the meeting in order to enable the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan to place additional information and data about those already proposed and if he considers appropriate, add more names to the list of [those proposed] for consideration by the JCP.

The proposal to defer the meeting was supported by Mr Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Mr Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Mr Justice (retd) Sarmad Jalal Osmany and the Attorney General for Pakistan [AGP]. It was accordingly decided to defer the meeting. The date of the next meeting will be communicated to the members of the commission by the JCP chairman."

Also read: Bars oppose elevation of junior judges to SC

However, JCP member Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s letter came to the fore that was written to all members of the commission.

Justice Isa disputed the facts, mentioned in the SC statement. The letter stated: "After a detailed discussion, the majority of the Hon'ble Members of the JCP, that is the Hon'ble Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Hon'ble Law Minister Mr Azam Nazeer Tarar, Hon'ble Attorney General Mr Ashtar Ausaf Ali, representative of the Pakistan Bar Council the Hon'ble Mr Akhtar Hussain and myself decided to reject the nominations of  the three junior judges of the Sindh High Court and one junior judge of the Lahore High Court.”

The judge further wrote that about the Peshawar High Court chief justice, it was decided that “since he was neither the senior most chief justice nor the senior most judge from amongst the five high courts, his name may be considered when placed alongside those of his peers, that is, with the CJs of the other high courts and senior most judges, with provision of comparable data. It was also decided that the Constitution did not permit appointments to 'anticipated' vacancies”.

The letter also stated that the chairman did not dictate the decisions that were made, and left the meeting quite abruptly, followed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan. “Therefore, it has now fallen to the temporarily appointed acting secretary to draw up the minutes and the decisions that were taken. This is the first time he is doing so, as the secretary is on [a] holiday,” the letter read.

Justice Isa also wrote that the eyes of the nation were transfixed on the JCP and they had a constitutional right to know what was decided.

“Therefore, the acting secretary should immediately release this decision to the media … [This] will also stem unnecessary speculation and misreporting as the meeting was held behind closed doors. It is expected that the detailed minutes will accurately reflect all that transpired.”

Also read: Justice Isa pens letter against CJP Bandial's summoning of JCP meeting

Senior lawyers say that only the AGP could clarify the present situation as he was one of the participants of the meeting.

Sources said the AGP had suggested to postpone the commission’s meeting until criteria about judges' appointment was evolved.

It has been learnt that the majority of the JCP members had urged the CJP to consider the nominee of Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah for elevation.

The members also raised the issue for not considering three senior Sindh High Court judges.
Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Ahsan Bhoon told The Express Tribune that he had verified the details about the JCP meeting from other members. He said he endorsed all the facts narrated by Justice Isa in his letter.

The SCBA president further said the CJP should issue minutes of meeting after approval from all members.
He demanded that the CJP should evolve criteria about judges’ appointment to the SC before any nomination.
It has been witnessed that CJPs were in the minority in the JCP since its establishment in 2010.
One member, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, is retiring on August 14.

The CJP might fall further in the minority. Senior lawyers are urging the CJP that without disputing nominees, he should evolve a consensus in the JCP.

Currently, he is not receiving support from senior SC judges, government and bar on the matter of appointments. It is high time that the CJP should summon a full court meeting soon.

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