Speakers at an All Pakistan Lawyers Convention (APLC) on Saturday objected to a planned address of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to the returning officers calling it an attempt to influence the upcoming general election.
The Lahore High Court Bar Association hosted the convention to seek suggestions from bar representatives on the issue of appointments in superior courts.
Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Syed Kalbe Hasan, its members Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon and Azam Nazir Tarar, Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary Javed Iqbal Raja, former LHCBA president Asma Jahangir, Balochistan Bar Council Executive Committee Chairman Munir Kakar and Balochistan High Court Bar Association President Zahoor Shahwani were prominent among the participants. Representatives of several district bar associations also attended the convention.
The participants said that the electoral process should not be influenced by any quarter and that the Election Commission of Pakistan should be allowed to hold the elections fairly.
They said the CJP had no moral justification to address the returning officers. They demanded that the appointments of judges be made on merit and “in consultation” with bar representatives in the Judicial Commission. They demanded that the aggrieved party be given the right of appeal in suo motu cases. They also demanded that the government ensure early recovery of former Balochistan advocate general Salahuddin.
Earlier, addressing the convention, Kalbe Hasan said the superior courts should bring transparency to the appointment process for judges. He said the bar representatives in the JC should be duly consulted before recommending the judges’ names. He alleged that the vacancies in the superior judiciary were being filled on the basis of personal likes and dislikes.
Asma Jahangir said the courts should not meddle in ECP affairs. She said the CJP by addressing the returning officers wanted to influence the election process. She said Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution reflected a dictatorial mindset.
She said lawyers wanted timely elections for the continuation of the democratic process in the country. Slamming intrusive questions asked by the ROs from the candidates, she hailed a restraining order issued recently by the LHC.
LHCBA president Abid Saqi said the judicial officers should have been properly trained before their appointment as returning officers. He said the returning officers had no right to humiliate the candidates by asking personal questions.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2013.
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