Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who is also chairman of the Judicial Commission, on Saturday summoned the first meeting of the commission on November 6.
The commission’s meeting, initially to be held on Saturday, was rescheduled after one of its senior members – Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan – left for the US at the head of a judicial delegation to attend a programme in Washington between October 23 and November 13.
Now, the commission will meet on November 6 without Justice Shakirullah Jan to initiate the process of filling vacancies in the superior courts.
Clause 14 of Article 175-A allows the commission’s chairman to summon a meeting even if one of its members is missing. Clause 14 reads: “Make it operational and initiate the process of filling the actual and anticipated vacancies of judges in the superior courts.”
There are a total of 32 vacancies in the high courts, whereas the commission will also have to appoint a new chief justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC) as Justice Khawaja Sharif will be retiring on December 8, sources told The Express Tribune.
There are also two vacancies of judges in the Supreme Court. Justice Rehmat Hussain Jafery will retire on November 22 while Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed retired earlier on May 4, the sources added.
The commission has also made initial appointments in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). But for the appointment of the IHC chief justice, the number of commission members will swell from seven members to 11 members after the four chief justices of provincial high courts are made members of the commission.
Meanwhile, the commission is also concerned about the situation in the Balochistan High Court where all judges, including the chief justice, retired in September. They have, however, been directed by the apex court to continue working till its ruling on 18th Amendment.
“Those judges may be confirmed by the commission,” a source said. “But it is the chief justice and chairman of the commission who will initiate the process.”
First of all, the commission may also discuss the replacement of Justice Khwaja Sharif, the LHC chief justice, who is retiring on December 8, sources claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2010.