Following the retirement of Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja is taking charge as head of the Supreme Court for a brief period of 24 days. President Mamnoon Hussain will administer his oath today (Monday) in a solemn ceremony at the President House.
Justice Khawaja is known as an outspoken judge, whose interest in public interest litigation is a throwback to the the era of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, wherein the top functionaries were often grilled over corruption and poor governance.
A number of law officers and senior journalists believe that in the next 24 days, the newly appointed CJ may pass orders in some important cases. Specially, Justice Khawaja is unhappy over absence of local governments in Punjab and Sindh. The matter is fixed in the next week.
As the government issues notification of his appointment, a number of lawyers, whose cases are fixed before CJ Khawaja, have applied for general adjournment (leaves).
During his six-year tenure as judge of the apex court, justice Khawaja has authored judgments, wherein guidelines are given for introducing reforms.
In one case, he sought recommendations from all stakeholders to end the thana culture. In another case, he recently ordered all the provincial health departments to make legislation for the safety of labourers.
Due to Justice Khawaja’s special attention, the federal and provincial governments have regulated the services of lady health workers. Justice Khawaja also formed a media commission, wherein recommendations were given for making media laws.
Justice Khawaja, while hearing the matter regarding the implementation of the court’s December 10, 2013 judgment in 35 missing persons’ case, gave a tough time to the federal government and the defence minister was compelled to register an FIR against serving army men.
He has also issued a verdict regarding the miserable condition of prisoners on May 28. These days he is hearing the matters regarding the regularisation of NGOs, as well as probe of mega scandals by the National Accountability Bureau.
It is expected that newly appointed CJ will make the SC human rights cell effective, which has been redundant since the retirement of Justice (retd) Iftikhar Chaudhry.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2015.