Test of mettle: Incoming CJ faces a set of challenges, say legal experts

Justice Nasirul Mulk is expected to hear several high-profile cases, including the missing persons case.

Hasnaat Malik July 06, 2014


As Justice Nasirul Mulk prepares to take oath as the country’s 22nd chief justice on Sunday (today), a set of challenges await him in that role, legal experts said on Saturday.

Justice Nasirul Mulk, who hails from Swat district in Khyber-Paktunkwa (K-P), is expected to hear several high-profile cases, including the contentious missing persons case and others involving the state, they said.

Though Justice Mulk’s appointment has been widely hailed by members of the legal fraternity, experts have begun counting the challenges he faces during his 13-month tenure as chief judge of the apex court.

For his part, the incoming CJ already spelled out his policy of judicial restraint and renewing the court’s focus on ordinary litigants in a speech delivered earlier this week.

A senior lawyer said the missing persons case will probably be the biggest test of his term in office. The court needs to rule on the legal questions related to the trial of military officials involved in enforced disappearances in the country, he said.

The incoming CJ also heads the bench hearing cases of targeted killings in Balochistan. Interestingly, during the last hearing, Justice Mulk pressed military authorities on the progress in the trial of army officials.

Similarly, Justice Mulk will also be hearing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s petition on the verification of thumbprint impressions in four constituencies. The issue has vexed the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz party and will draw considerable attention when the court delivers a ruling on it.

With civil society member Amina Masood Janjua ready to challenge the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014, a senior member of the Supreme Court bar said that the apex court’s ruling in the case would be significant.

Since the deadline given to the government to hold local government polls lapses on November 15, 2014, Justice Mulk will also have to deal with this issue in view of Article 140-A of the constitution.

Next week, a review petition by the Pakistan Bar Council will also add to the long list of cases that Justice Mulk’s court will have to deal with against the removal of more than 100 judges through July 31, 2009 judgment.

Similarly, the fate of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf is likely to be decided in the Supreme Court as the judgment by the special court hearing the treason trial can only be challenged in the top court.

Justice Mulk’s mettle as the top judge would also be tested while his court hears Musharraf’s petition seeking the removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL). Any decision favouring the former military ruler is likely to irk the civilian government.

Members of superior bars have expressed dissatisfaction over the appointment of judges. During his term as the top judge, Justice Mulk would be treading a careful path to avoid criticism by lawyers on the issue.

According to top jurists, Justice Mulk’s use of suo motu powers, a household term during former CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry’s term, will be closely watched.

Commenting on the appointment, former Islamabad High Court CJ Sardar Muhammad Aslam credited justice Mulk for being an upright and uninfluenced judge. “He will deliver verdicts in accordance with the law,” he said.

Advocate General K-P Latif Yousufzai, a classmate of the newly appointed CJ, said that Justice Nasir is a man of integrity and  impartiality.

Unlike his predecessors, the incoming CJ has decided to maintain a distance from media in the country. According to officials, Justice Mulk has not invited members  of the press corps to cover the SC-sponsored farewell dinner honouring Justice Jillani.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2014.


Naseer ahmad | 8 years ago | Reply

The difficult test for the incoming CJ will be how to impose a judicial decorum on the Judges inducted by the former CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry.

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