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Court door ajar for PCO-regime judges

January 22, 2014

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At least two of the nominees for post of judge of the Islamabad High Court belong to the group of judges shown the door by Supreme Court on July 31, 2009, for being appointed by the ‘de facto’ chief justice of Pakistan Abdul Hameed Dogar. — File Photo by APP
At least two of the nominees for post of judge of the Islamabad High Court belong to the group of judges shown the door by Supreme Court on July 31, 2009, for being appointed by the ‘de facto’ chief justice of Pakistan Abdul Hameed Dogar. — File Photo by APP

LAHORE: At least two of the nominees for post of judge of the Islamabad High Court belong to the group of judges shown the door by Supreme Court on July 31, 2009, for being appointed by the ‘de facto’ chief justice of Pakistan Abdul Hameed Dogar, Dawn has learnt.

Sources say many senior lawyers, recommended by chief justices of the Lahore High Court and Islamabad High Court to fill vacancies of judges in their respective high courts, have been lined up to informally meet Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani. These interviews are of the introductory nature since the appointments are to be finalised by the Judicial Commission.

The IHC Chief Justice, Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi, forwarded the names of Imtiaz Rasheed Siddiqui and Ehtisham Qadir Shah to the CJP for their appointment as judge of the court. Both nominees were elevated to the LHC in March 2009 with the consultation of then ‘de facto’ CJP Dogar.

Justice Dogar had become chief justice after taking oath under infamous Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) promulgated by then president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf along with imposition of emergency in the country on Nov 3, 2007.

Sources said the names of both the lawyers were reconsidered for the LHC initially. However, the names were dropped at a later stage after one of them insisted on getting previous seniority in case of a fresh appointment. Later, their names were forwarded for elevation to the IHC instead of the LHC.

At present three positions of judges are lying vacant in IHC against sanctioned strength of seven judges, including the chief justice.

The Pakistan Bar Council, the top regulatory body of lawyers, has been calling for reconsideration of judges who had taken oath under the restored constitution and who were elevated by a democratically-elected government. The PBC also passed resolutions to this effect, demanding that the Judicial Commission reconsider names of these judges.

The matter was taken up in several meetings of the commission. However, then CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry always ignored the suggestion, a PBC member says.

A source maintains that former CJP Chaudhry was not inclined to even discuss about the judges appointed with the consultation of Justice Dogar though no stigma or embargo on fresh appointment was put on such judges in the judgment of July 31, 2009.

It appears the incumbent judiciary, which was restored after a landmark movement against unconstitutional acts of former military ruler Musharraf, has now softened its view about the removed judges of the PCO-regime.

At least nine senior lawyers are being vetted for elevation to the LHC. They include former Punjab advocate general (during caretaker set-up) Shahid Karim, two additional advocate generals Faisal Zaman and Nayar Abbas Rizvi, two famous tax lawyers Shahid Jamil and Dr Ikramul Haq, former president of Lahore High Court Shehram Sarwar, president of High Court Bar Association (Multan bench) Shahbaz Haider Rizvi, Sikandar Sultan and Dr Amjad.

LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial recommended seven names initially. However, two names were added later by Supreme Court. Currently, 44 judges are working in the LHC against a sanctioned strength of 60.

Sources say a batch of six judges may be finalised for LHC in next meeting of the Judicial Commission that is likely to be held on Saturday in Islamabad.