LAHORE, Aug 19: Justice Karamat Nazir Bhandari, a judge of the Supreme Court working on an ad hoc basis, has availed himself of three-year extension offered under the Legal Framework Order. His extension period began on Aug 18 (Monday).

Justice Bhandari, who is still on the Lahore High Court’s existing strength of 37 judges due to his elevation as the SC judge on ad hoc basis, turned 62 on Aug 17. This, according to the previous law, was the retirement age for a High Court judge. However, it was stretched to 65 years under an LFO provision.

In case Justice Bhandari is confirmed as the SC judge, he will get another three years service under the LFO because the retirement age for the SC judges has been extended to 68 years.

He is the seventh judge of the superior courts to avail himself of the extension after Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, the chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Munir A Sheikh and Justice Qazi Muhammad Farooq (SC), Justice Raja Muhammad Sabir (LHC), Justice Ashraf Leghari (Sindh High Court) and Justice Abdur Rauf Khan (Peshawar High Court).

Meanwhile, office-bearers of the Pakistan Bar Council, Supreme Court Bar Association, Lahore High Court Bar Association and Bar associations of other provinces wrote a letter to Justice Bhandari, reminding him that he had “retired” on Aug 17.

The Bar representatives claimed in the letter that the fate of the LFO was still undecided, as it had neither been presented in parliament for approval nor had it been accepted as a part of the 1973 Constitution by the lawyers.

LHCBA President Hafiz Abdul Rahman Ansari told newsmen at a conference that the Bar had conveyed in unequivocal terms to the judiciary through its letter, holding that the LFO was merely an order of President Gen Pervez Musharraf and didn’t have any legal identity.

“Only parliament can extend or curtail the retirement age for the superior courts’ judges, which Gen Musharraf is not authorized to do.”

He added: “Those availing themselves of the extension have disappointed the members of the Bar association, who had pinned high hopes on them.”

The LHCBA president iterated that the legal fraternity would continue its struggle against the LFO unless it was struck down by parliament. “We want to make it clear that the lawyers will not accept the provisions of three-year extension (offered to judges), and president’s discretion to dissolve the assemblies,” Mr Ansari asserted.

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