Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial has included Senior Puisne Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa in his bench for the first time to hear the cases in the coming week from September 5 to 9.
Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah is also part of bench No 1.
In the backdrop of a perception regarding a rift among Supreme Court judges including Justice Isa, sitting of two senior most judges in same bench is being appreciated by the legal fraternity.
Talking to The Express Tribune, former Sindh High Court Bar Association president Salahuddin Ahmed termed it an “excellent development” which would improve the public perception and prestige of the apex court.
"One hopes that previously evident rifts in the judiciary can be healed and repaired. There is a unified focus to collectively resolve various issues with the justice delivery system. Both the honourable chief justice and honourable senior puisne judge have a crucial role to play in this process," he said.
Another senior lawyer said that politics is the art of conversation. "In Pakistan, the real problem is the end of conversations. Politicians are not talking to each other. The generals and bureaucrats seldom do. Judges too are no longer in dialogue."
The lawyer saw the next week apex court’s roster as “glad tidings”. “It suggests a resumption of conversation between senior judges. The nation and the state will benefit from it,” he added.
Former additional attorney general Tariq Mahmood Khokhar noted that the reconstituted apex court benches herald the beginning of the end of internecine strife.
"[This is] more dissent and diversity and a step back from the precipice. The chief justice has risen above much discord and acrimony. I am sure others will reciprocate," Khokhar said.
It has been witnessed that Justice Isa case proceedings had badly affected the working of the apex court. Judges spoke with each other through judicial orders and even harsh words were exchanged between Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah during the hearing of Justice Isa case.
Several lawyers accused former chief justice Gulzar Ahmed of not playing a mediatory role to end rift among the Supreme Court judges. However, senior lawyers wondered why the incumbent CJP was including Justice Isa in a bench which was hearing important constitutional and sensitive matters.
Justice Isa had written a letter to the CJP raising questions on the composition of the bench to hear presidential reference regarding scope and interpretation of Article 63A of constitution.
When CJP Bandial summoned a meeting of Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) on July 28 to consider the elevation of five nominees to the top court, Justice Isa protested, saying he was abroad when the commission’s meeting was called.
The JCP meeting had exposed the internal working of the superior judiciary and the CJP’s nominees were not approved by a majority of the commission’s members.
Following the meeting, senior lawyers urged CJP Bandial to initiate dialogue process with the senior judges for the appointment of top court judges. Currently, five posts of the Supreme Court judges are lying vacant.
Sources revealed to The Express Tribune that the CJP held meeting with JCP members on Wednesday. The lawyers stressed the need for a permanent resolution of issues regarding composition of benches, fixation of cases and appointment of superior court judges. The CJP discretionary powers are vital in these matters.
Majority of the JCP members want that criteria should be evolved for the appointment of superior court judges.
It is to be noted that no full court meeting has been held for the last two years. It is expected that a full court would meet at the start of new judicial year on September 12.
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