ISLAMABAD: The President and Secretary of the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) challenged the Pakistani Judicial Commission (JCP) discretion in appointing judges to the Supreme Court on Saturday in the Supreme Court (SC).
In a joint petition, petitioners, Salahuddin Ahmed and Mohammad Omer Soomro, have requested a statement that the JCP should structure its discretion in increasing judges in higher courts by inviting suggestions from all relevant stakeholders, including judges, senior lawyers and Legal representatives, members of parliamentary committees, federal and state governments, civil society and litigants.
The proposals should call for structuring the process of appointing judges to the highest courts and for making seminars, workshops or consultations more objective and transparent that may be necessary in this regard in order to hear all relevant points of view, the petition says .
It also advocated that the Supreme Court should instruct the JCP to issue comprehensive and detailed rules or guidelines to structure both the appointment process and the criteria and parameters for appointments, after considering the various aspects in the light of the proposal, guidelines or framework which the Supreme Court deems possible to make it reasonable.
The petition also advocated that, until the present petition was pending, the seniority principle should be strictly adhered to in appointing the judges of the Supreme Court to the Supreme Court.
The petition recalled that the five of the last seven justices appointed to the Supreme Court were not the most senior in their Supreme Courts, and during the tenure of former Supreme Judge Mian Saqib Nisar, Judge Muneeb Akhtar was appointed to the Supreme Court despite him Fourth was of seniority with the Sindh High Court (SHC).
During the tenure of former Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Judge Qazi Amin Ahmed was charged to the Supreme Court in April 2019, despite resigning from the Lahore High Court (LHC) just a month earlier while he was ranked 26th in seniority .
Similarly, Judge Aminuddin Ahmed was only fifth in seniority in the LHC, before being appointed top court in Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed’s tenure, Judge Mohammad Ali Mazhar was promoted to highest court despite being fifth in the SHC, the petition says.
This drastic deviation from seniority – to the extent that it has become a deviation from the new norm and compliance with the exception – is a phenomenon that began in 2018, regretted the petition, explaining that previously the appointment of junior judges by the Supreme Courts in the Supreme Court was an exception and even then it was at most the Chief Justice who was appointed with the consent of his Chief Justice.
This recent trend to completely ignore the seniority principle has raised serious concerns and concerns within the legal community and within the judiciary and even within the JCP and parliamentary committee, the petition said.
Since 2018, when Judge Muneeb Akhtar was appointed, various bar associations and associations have protested the same thing, the petition says.
Unfortunately, reservations from various bar associations have been ignored and these have now resulted in resolutions passed by all provincial and ICT bar associations, as well as their main bar associations, the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Pakistan Bar Council.
The abandonment of the seniority principle without valid reason has led to disagreement between the JCP and the parliamentary committee, argued the petition, adding that on the other hand, detached judges have voiced their complaints about being circumvented both privately and publicly.
Not only does this badly reflect the standing of the judicial authority, but it is only natural that unscheduled promotions should negatively affect the morale and performance of those judges who feel they are being unfairly and without valid reason being circumvented.
Even the Pakistani Attorney General believes it is necessary to improve the process of appointing judges to the top court and to establish objective and transparent criteria for it.
Posted in Dawn, November 28, 2021