PESHAWAR, Nov 7: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday declared the appointment of judicial officers by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Service Commission (PSC) as unconstitutional and set aside a decision of the provincial cabinet for referring the proposed amendments to the KP Judicial Services Rules, 2011 to a committee for consideration.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth accepted a writ petition filed by lawyer Ghulam Nabi Khan and issued a short order observing that the provincial cabinet’s act of referring the proposed amendments to a committee headed by the law minister was based on mala fide and was of no legal effect.

The petitioner has prayed the court to declare the recruitment of civil judges through PSC as illegal and unconstitutional and issue orders that in future, these judicial officers be appointed by the provincial judicial selection board comprising the high court judges.

The bench referred to several provisions of the Constitution, especially Article 175, and observed that the said article had made it mandatory to separate the judiciary from the executive.

On Oct 1, the provincial cabinet had formed a committee under the chairmanship of the provincial law minister for examining certain amendments proposed by PHC to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Services Rules, 2001.

The court had proposed that the powers of appointment of judicial officers be taken away from the provincial public service commission and handed over to provincial judicial selection board, which the high court would be empowered to establish.

The petitioner contended that apart from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, all three provinces had amended the relevant rules for appointment of judicial officers by judicial selection board. He said in the famous Sharaf Faridi case, the Supreme Court had clearly ordered separation of judiciary from the executive.

He also said members of PSC didn’t enjoy constitutional tenure and selection of judicial officers by the commission, besides being repugnant to the provisions of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court, and would also influence the independence of the judiciary.

ARREST WARRANT ISSUED: The bench issued bailable arrest warrants of the Peshawar Development Authority’s director general and town municipal officers of all four towns of the provincial capital after they failed to turn up in a case pertaining to illegal cutting of trees.

It also issued directions for strict action against the relevant officials if even a single tree was cut illegally.

The court also directed chief conservator of the forest department Gul Mohammad and director general of Environmental Protection Agency Dr Bashir to submit report about the cases they had registered against persons involved in deforestation in the provincial capital, including cantonment Area and other districts including Dir.

The court fixed Dec 13 for next hearing.

The court has taken notice of the matter on two applications, one about the cutting of scores of tress in four towns of Peshawar and second about the alleged involvement of army officials in the illegal cutting of trees in Dir area.

The chief conservator claimed that deforestation and smuggling of timber had taken place in Dir area.

However, the chief justice said there were reports that timber had been smuggled through official vehicles of security forces.

The court directed the chief conservator to form a commission for probing the matter.

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