SC extends 32 judges’ tenures

Qazi Anwar requested the bench to issue an interim order regarding the ad hoc judges.

Qaiser Zulfiqar August 30, 2010

ISLAMABAD: In the face of a potential judicial crisis in Balochistan, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday directed 32 additional judges of four provincial high courts to continue working till a verdict is reached in the 18th amendment case.

During the course of hearing of the 18th amendment case, the issue of the appointment of judges in the Balochistan  High Court came under discussion before the 17-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

It is pertinent to mention that the Supreme Court Bar Association and Balochistan High Court Bar submitted applications, while the chief justices of the high courts wrote letters, to the chief justice expressing concern over the upcoming judicial crises in Balochistan.

Qazi Anwar, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, requested the bench to issue an interim order regarding the ad hoc judges of the high courts, saying that the government is also not opposed to their plea.  After the counsel of Balochistan High Court Bar, Rasheed A Rizvi appeared and read out the letter of the chief justice of the Balochistan High Court.

He requested the bench to suspend Article 175-A in the wake of the upcoming judicial crisis on September 5 when all the judges of Balochistan High Court are slated to retire, and if that was not possible then the court may give at least a two-month extension to the retiring judges.

Later, the Attorney General for Pakistan Maulvi Anwarul Haq appeared before the bench and submitted that the government does not oppose the letters written by the high courts’ chief justices, but added that they could have also been written two or three weeks ago.

The court raised this matter on July 26th before the federation’s lawyer Waseem Sajjad when he was arguing in the 18th Amendment case, Justice Jawad Khawaja said.

Justice Sair Ali said that the executive should have solved this issue earlier as it was purely an administrative issue.

“It is an important issue, and the government was directed on August 9 to solve it,” said Justice Jawad.

“We want a verdict in the 18th amendment case, but it is taking too much time,” the attorney general submitted, upon which Justice Sair Ali said that all 12 lawyers of the federation have been given appropriate time to present their arguments. The chief justice observed that the judges of the Supreme Court are working night and day, and the bench would deliver its verdict after hearing all parties.

Justice Saqib Nisar questioned what effort the government, on its part, had made to resolve this issue. Who has stopped them from making a judicial and parliamentary committee for the appointment of judges, he observed.

A hasty decision cannot be made in the case, said Justice Javed Iqbal, observing that the case is an important one and would have an effect on generations to come.

The court gave time to the Attorney General to consult the federation and inform the court about its position on this issue. However, he later informed the bench that a committee would be formed within a day or two and the federation’s stance is that amendments to the Constitution cannot be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2010.


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