CJP’s extension issue stirs political chessboard

PTI vows to resist attempts to extend CJP’s tenure

Rizwan Shehzad   April 16, 2024
Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa. PHOTO: FILE


Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) while giving credence to the speculation that the government was allegedly planning to extend the incumbent chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) tenure for three years vowed on Monday that it would thwart any move deviating from the set pattern of judges’ promotion to unduly facilitate CJP Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

Currently, the issue stands somewhere between speculations and assumptions as the ministers have previously denied any progress in this regard yet the PTI claims that the government was busy making such a move, saying “the fake government” was seemingly planning to extend his tenure for three more years.

Amid rigging allegations and protests from the opposition parties, some legal experts while questioning the alleged lack of legitimacy of the current government in making a constitutional amendment opposed the idea, saying any such move would look clearly like machination and the judiciary should stay away from it.

Although the speculations about CJP’s extension have been making the rounds for a few weeks in the capital, PTI spokesperson clearly brought the issue into the public domain when its central information secretary, Raoof Hasan, held a press conference and made it clear that the party would strongly resist any such move.

In the press conference, the PTI spokesperson made it clear that PTI would strongly resist any act in violation of the set pattern of judges’ promotion to “unduly facilitate Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Qazi Isa," saying the current government was hell-bent on destroying state institutions.

Surprisingly, Hasan also relied on speculation as he said that reports were surfing that the “fake government” was planning to table a bill seeking an extension in the tenure of the incumbent CJP, which, he said, “PTI would not allow to change the set rule come what may”.

In an official statement, Raoof alleged that “Qazi Faiz Isa was playing the role of a facilitator to the government and powerful circles," adding the CJP could only see the dereliction of justice being done 40 years ago but did not see the injustices and fascism facing the PTI and the constitutional violation in the country.

“Hence,” he said, “legislation would likely be done to make him chief justice for a fixed tenure.” He vowed that the government was infringing the constitution and that the PTI would leave no stone unturned to protect the constitution and supremacy of law.

“To attempt any change to the constitution in such circumstances would look clearly like machination,” a lawyer and political analyst, Abdul Moiz Jaferii, said. “It’s like someone whose claim to a house is disputed suddenly decides to add another floor and knock out a few walls.”

Jaferii, however, said that the actual problem will be the lack of legitimacy of this current government in making a constitutional amendment, saying it would only have the numbers due to wrongly allotted reserved seats, stemming directly from the loss of the bat symbol and which are currently disputed. He said that the numbers would also come from seats which are under dispute before election tribunals.

Former vice president of Lahore High Court Bar Association, Rabbiya Bajwa, shared with The Express Tribune that any move to extend CJP’s tenure was not acceptable and would be resisted as there was no room for it in the constitution.

The lawyer, who belongs to the professional group of lawyers, recalled that lawyers had resisted moves about judges’ tenure in the past and had forced the governments, including that of Gen Musharraf’s period, to withdraw the same.

“If [CJP] Justice Faez Isa accepts any such offer then we would think that it was initiated on his behalf,” Bajwa said, saying CJP’s role regarding human rights and political victimization wasn’t very good as he didn’t play the role which was expected from him. “To some extent, it seems that he [CJP] is an ally of powers backed by the establishment,” Bajwa alleged.

Bajwa, however, regretted that the talk about extensions wasn’t a new phenomenon for Pakistan as the whole system was put at stake by the bigwigs of the establishment for getting extensions in the past.
“Judiciary should stay away from any such move,” she said, saying the move would worsen the already difficult situation and lead to weakening the country. She emphasized that all institutions should work within the defined constitutional boundaries.

The information minister was texted to get his response but no reply came till the filing of the story.


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