ISLAMABAD: Intensifying renewed campaign against the process of elevation of a junior judge to the apex court, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Thursday advised Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed to leave the appointment’s procedure to his successor.
“It would be appropriate if the CJP may defer the matter of elevation to the Supreme Court, to be settled by the forthcoming CJP,” said a joint resolution adopted at a meeting of the SCBA which was also attended by vice chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Khushdil Khan and chairman of the PBC executive committee Mohammad Masood Chishti as special invitees.
Later talking to the media, SCBA president Mohammad Ahsan Bhoon brought into the notice of the CJP his own well-founded principle that no chief justice should commence the process of elevations to the Supreme Court if his tenure was nearing its end. The CJP will retire on Feb 1, 2022.
The SCBA, therefore, requested the CJP that since his tenure was approaching its end and he had only one month to retire, it would be appropriate if he deferred the matter to his successor, Mr Bhoon said.
SCBA calls for changes in constitutional provisions dealing with appointment, removal of judges
The meeting of the SCBA executive committee, presided over by Mr Bhoon, discussed the issue relating to the appointment of judges in the wake of a meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) to be held early next week to elevate Justice Ayesha A. Malik of the Lahore High Court (LHC) as the first woman judge of the apex court.
On Dec 29, the PBC had called a meeting on Jan 3, 2022 to consider the matter of elevation of the junior judge to the apex court and chalk out a strategy.
PBC vice chairman Khushdil Khan had already written letters to the vice chairmen of the executive committees, members of the JCP from the lawyers’ side, the SCBA president and the provincial and Islamabad bar councils and high court bar associations to attend Monday’s meeting.
The SCBA meeting demanded amendments to Article 175-A of the Constitution, which deals with the procedure of appointment of judges to superior courts, and Article 209, which suggests ways to remove a superior court judge.
Mr Bhoon said that through the amendments parliament should consider merging the two forums — the JCP and the parliamentary committee — into one by empowering the body so formed to deal with appointments, elevations or removals of superior court judges.
The resolution also demanded that the composition of the JCP be reviewed and at least two representatives from the Bar bodies and equal number of representatives from the opposition parties be given representation in the commission. Representation of two Supreme Court judges — the CJP and senior puisne judge along with the attorney general and federal law minister — in the JCP was more than sufficient, it said.
Mr Bhoon said the meeting also demanded that same criteria be adopted for elevations to high courts wherein the CJP and a senior judge of respective high court would be taken on board alongside one member of the bar council concerned and one member of the PBC.
The meeting unanimously resolved that the legal fraternity did not have any personal agenda; neither they were against anyone nor in favour of anyone, rather they wanted adherence to the rule of law and the principle of seniority and, as such, nomination for elevation of the junior judge to the Supreme Court was received with displeasure and disapproved, Mr Bhoon said.
He said the meeting noted that as per past traditions, a nomination for elevation, if not approved, could not be considered twice since it gave the impression of nepotism hence it was anticipated that the CJP and the JCP would refrain from considering the name of the same judge twice and would ensure adherence to this principle.