ISLAMABAD, Jan 16: The ministry of law and justice, on Wednesday, issued the much awaited notification for the appointment of two Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges — Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi — which was pending for over two months.
The two judges could not perform their official duties, when on November 2012, President Asif Ali Zardari did not sign a summary regarding their appointment, recommended by Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP), on October 22, 2012.
Important cases — extension of Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, cases involving former prime minister task force head Faisal Sakhi Butt and land encroachment case of brother of Interior Minister Rehman Malik — were pending in the court of Justice Siddiqui.
Justice Siddiqui — before IHC registrar Niaz Mohammad Khan on November 26, 2012, restrained the judge from issuing judgments in light of the official summary not being signed by the President — was about to take up the case on the extension of Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, as well as cases of missing persons, including a detained Syrian student.
Justice Siddiqui had also restrained former PM task force head Faisal Sakhi Butt from entering CDA premises and on October 2012 constituted a commission to probe the CDA mega projects worth billion of rupees.
The judge had also ordered the retrieval of encroached land from Khalid Malik, brother of Interior Minister Rehman Malik and before leaving his office on November 20, he had suspended the allotment of 450 kiosks.
Patch up or routine
According to legal experts, the notification is reflective that the government is trying to mend ways with the Supreme Court, after the court issued arrest orders for the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the Rental Power Projects (RPP) case, on January 15, 2013.
Although Secretary law Yasmeen Abbasi when contacted said that this notification had nothing to do with the apex court order in the RPP case. According to the law secretary, the notification for the appointment of judges had been issued in accordance with the directions of the apex court.
Attorney general Irfan Qadir also supported the stance of the law secretary and said that the RPP case and appointment of IHC judges are two different issues.
The matter regarding the appointment of these two judges was pending since November, 2012, as President Asif Ali Zardari did not sign the summary for the appointment of judges.
Important to note, Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) on October 22, 2012, had recommended the permanent appointment of additional judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and gave six months extension to additional judge Noorul Haq N. Qureshi. The Parliamentary Committee on Judges Appointment on November 6, also endorsed the JCP recommendations.
The Supreme Court on December 21, 2012 hearing a petition filed by a Karachi based lawyer Nadeem Ahmed had directed the federal government to issue the notification for the appointment of judges.
However, the federal government through attorney general of Pakistan instead of issuing the notification went into another round of litigation by filing a review petition in the apex court order of December 21.
The government’s review petition took the stance that the court’s order was not in accordance with the requirements of justice.
According to an official of IHC, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui would take fresh oath, while there is no need for Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi to take oath.
The IHC official stated that after the issuance of the notification, Justice Qureshi would rejoin the court and resume hearing of cases by Thursday because there is no need for a fresh oath as he is still an additional judge and was given six months extension.
On the other hand, the IHC official said that Justice Siddiqui would resume his office after taking a fresh oath because the JCP had confirmed his services and he would be a permanent judge of the IHC.
It may be mentioned that the two judges – Justice Siddiqui and Justice Qureshi – soon after the expiry of their term had relinquished the charge of their office on November 20, 2012.
At the time of their departure, detailed judgments of over 600 petitions were pending in their courts.
Important to note, IHC registrar Niaz Mohammad Khan on November 26, 2012, had restrained the judges from issuing judgments and had asked the judges to return files of the cases pending in their courts to the IHC administration.