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KARACHI, Sept 16: Outgoing Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court Mushir Alam said on Monday that some of the lawyers who had been in the forefront of the struggle for the independence of the judiciary now wanted to get “a reward for their role in the movement” in the shape of appointment of judges.

He said that he was sorry about not living up to the expectations of those who wanted to reap “fruits of independence” as he could not make any compromise on merit in judges’ appointment.

The outgoing chief justice who has been elevated to the Supreme Court was addressing a full court reference held in his honour at his courtroom.

He said that a shortage of judges was less detrimental to the judiciary than the induction of incompetent and inefficient judges. “There must not be any compromise on judges’ merit,” he said.

He recalled that there were only 14 working judges in the SHC when he became chief justice and now there were 31 judges. He refused to succumb to pressures exerted by “friends and well-wishers” who wanted their “blue-eyed people” to be elevated as judges.

He made no compromise on merit although he wielded discretionary powers to do so as the chief justice but “I haven’t appointed anyone in the high court by using my discretionary powers”.

“We want to bring competent and able judges,” he said, adding the Chief Justice-designate Maqbool Baqar would complete the task he was leaving incomplete.

He also took a swipe at the strikes called by lawyers and said the practice was just a pretext for escape from work.

The outgoing chief justice said that there was a remarkable decrease in the practice of filing of false and bogus claims in the high court thanks to the use of information technology. As many as 12,241 petitions and lawsuits were filed in 2012, while the number dropped to 9,136 in the current year, he said.

He said that corruption in the high court had declined to some extent but it would definitely take more time to get it fully eliminated. There was a mafia in subordinate courts which was against his efforts to curb corruption, he said.

Justice Alam said the Karachi Bar Association also sent a notice to the SHC saying that they would take legal action against it if their demands were not fulfilled.

SHC Chief Justice-designate Justice Maqbool Baqar, Sindh Bar Council vice chairman Mohammad Aqil, SHC Bar Association president Mustafa Lakhani, Karachi Bar Association president Naeem Qureshi, Prosecutor General of Sindh Shahadat Awan and Deputy Attorney General Zahid Khan also spoke on the occasion.

Justice Baqar lauded the services of the outgoing chief justice and congratulated him for his elevation to the apex court.

Besides a large number of senior lawyers and former judges, family members of the outgoing CJ also attended the full court reference.