Appointment of judges: Parliamentary panel to have final word

Constitutional reforms committee rejects key SC proposal; 19th amendment to be introduced.

Irfan Ghauri December 04, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PCCR) has partially accepted the Supreme Court’s recommendations on the appointment of judges, but rejecting a key proposal it has decided that the parliamentary panel would have the final word should it differ with the judicial commission on a certain nomination.

The 26-member all-party PCCR has also decided to bring a 19th amendment into the Constitution by incorporating “most” of the recommendations of the Supreme Court on Article 175-A, amending the 18th amendment, which was passed earlier this year.

“We have accepted all those recommendations that we felt reasonable. But we have tried to find a middle way where we had differences with the court’s recommendations,” a member of the committee told The Express Tribune.

Another member of the committee, requesting anonymity, said that once the eight-member parliamentary panel rejects  a certain nomination, that name will be deemed as rejected and the judicial commission will have to send a new name.

“The committee accepted proposals like holding closed-door sessions of the parliamentary panel on judges’ appointment. It also accepted the court’s recommendation that it will maintain a record of minutes of the meeting and will send them to the judicial commission in case it differs with the commission on a certain proposal,” the member said.

The PCCR’s decision is likely to generate another controversy as it has rejected a key recommendation that the SC had sent to the parliament, asking it to make certain changes in the procedure for appointment of judges that was adopted in the 18th amendment.

The court had proposed that if the parliamentary committee did not agree with a certain nomination, it will convey its reservations in writing to the judicial commission. The commission would then decide whether these reservations were valid. In this case, the final authority would have rested with the judicial commission.

According to a constitutional expert, the SC’s ruling had required the parliamentary panel to provide sound reasons for rejecting the judicial commission’s recommendations. It also said that if the panel’s opinion did differ, it was to refer its reservations back to the judicial commission. If the commission reiterated the recommendation, it would be final and the president would make the appointment according to the commission’s recommendation.

The PCCR’s recommendation, which will be formulated as the 19th amendment, runs conunter to this. It will give final authority to the parliamentary panel, which will scrutinise the nominations sent by the judicial commission for appointment to superior courts.

The PCCR has constituted an eight-member sub-committee to draft the 19th amendment, which will meet on December 7. Under the procedure, the draft of the 19th amendment will be signed by PCCR members before it is sent to the parliament for final approval, where a two-thirds majority from both houses of parliament will be required.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2010.


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