ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: Four judges who were sacked by former president Pervez Musharraf took fresh oath on Friday as judges of the Supreme Court with their seniority intact.
Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar administered the oath to Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Sabihuddin Ahmed and Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany in the Supreme Court building.
The ceremony was attended, among others, by judges of the apex court, Federal Shariat Court and Islamabad High Court, Law Minister Farooq Naek, Attorney General Sardar Latif Khosa, Senator Babar Awan and Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Mohammad Farooq.
On Sept 5, three judges — Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tassadduq Hussain Jillani and Justice Syed Jamshed Ali — had taken oath as Supreme Court judges.
With the fresh appointment, the number of judges in the Supreme Court has risen to 22. The strength of the court is 29. The government had raised the strength to 29 from 16 in June through the finance bill.
“In exercise of powers conferred under Article 177 of the Constitution, the president has been pleased to reappoint former deposed judges of the Supreme Court, namely Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan and Justice Nasirul Mulk, with effect from the date they take oath,” said the notification read out by the registrar of the Supreme Court.
These judges, according to the notification, would retain the seniority that existed on Nov 2 of last year and would be entitled to pension benefits on the basis of the original seniority.
Justices Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan and Justice Nasirul Mulk were deposed as judges of the apex court when the former president proclaimed a state of emergency on Nov 3.
Justice Sabihuddin Ahmed, a former chief justice of the Sindh High Court, was also sent home on Nov 3 while Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, a sitting SHC judge, has been elevated to the apex court.
Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan is certain to become chief justice after the retirement of incumbent Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, who is due to leave office on March 21 next year. Justice Sardar will retire on Feb 9, 2010.With the fresh wave of appointments, six judges of the Supreme Court remain deposed. They are Justice Iftikhar M. Chaudhry, Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Justice Falak Sher, Justice Raja Fayaz Ahmed and Justice Chaudhry Ejaz Ahmed. Justice Falk Sher will retire on Sept 21 (today).
“There is no PCO judge in the country,” Law Minister Farooq H. Naek emphatically said, adding that 80 to 90 per cent of senior judges who were sacked on Nov 3 had been restored.
All the senior judges of the superior court, after the lifting of emergency on Dec 15 last year, had taken oath under the Third Schedule of the Constitution, the minister explained while talking to reporters after the oath-taking ceremony.
“For the sake of the country, stop calling the incumbent judges as PCO judges,” said the minister. “Soon we will see institutions becoming stronger to lead the country towards the path of development and progress.”
He said the Constitution envisaged only one chief justice at a time, who in the present case was Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar. “We don’t believe in individuals but institutions.”
Mr Naek said a meeting of the chief justices of the five high courts and the four provincial law ministers would be held after Eidul Fitr to devise measures for ensuring speedy justice.
“Ordinary people don’t go to the Supreme Court or the high court as their problems revolve around the subordinate judiciary,” he said, adding that the government was planning to establish evening courts and other “fast-track” courts.