ISLAMABAD, Dec 24: President Gen Pervez Musharraf’s decision of not extending the retirement age of superior courts’ judges would result in the retirement of four Supreme Court and five high court judges.
Sources privy to the government’s decision of not giving even one-year extension to the judges told Dawn that it was thought that “angry judges” might create problems.
Those who would be affected by the government’s deal with the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal are: Chief Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, Justice Munir A. Sheikh, Justice Qazi Mohammad Farooq and Justice Karamat Nazir Bhindari of the Supreme Court; Justice Raja Sabir of the Lahore High Court; Justice Roshan Esani, Justice S.A. Sarwana, Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi and Justice Ashraf Leghari of the Sindh High Court; and Justice Rauf Khan Lughmani of the Peshawar High Court.
Justice Bhindari is serving as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court but his substantive post remains of a high court judge. As a high court judge, he has already attained the constitutional age of retirement of 62 years. Unless he is appointed a permanent judge of the Supreme Court, he would cease to be a judge after the approval of the constitutional amendment bill.
Sources were of the view that the Supreme Court judges not pleased with the government’s decision of giving them only a year of extension might pass an order which could disturb the democratic setup.
The government, however, is already reportedly contemplating the appointment of a new chief justice.
If the principle of seniority is upheld, Justice Nazim Siddiqui, a former SHC chief justice, would have a “legitimate expectancy” to become the chief justice of the country after the exit of three senior judges.
The sources, however, are not sure whether the government would honour the tradition of appointing the senior-most judge as the chief Justice.
The sources indicated that Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s seniority dispute with Justice Siddiqui might be decided quickly.
Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, a former Balochistan High Court chief justice, is treated as junior to Justice Siddiqui. He, however, has filed a representation with the chief justice stating that he should be declared senior, as he was appointed a high court judge earlier.
Justice Siddiqui and Justice Chaudhry took oath as Supreme Court judges on the same day. Justice Siddiqui was administered the oath in the morning whereas Justice Chaudhry was given the oath in the evening.