ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain on Saturday approved the appointment of Justice Munib Akhtar as a judge of the Supreme Court.
The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) had last month recommended the elevation of Justice Akhtar, a judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC), to the SC.
A notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice on Saturday reads, “In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 177 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President is pleased to appoint Mr Justice Munib Akhtar, Judge, High Court of Sindh as Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan with effect from the date he makes oath of his office”.
Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, the JCP had on April 15 recommended elevation of Justice Akhtar to the Supreme Court.
The Parliamentary Committee on the Judges Appointment endorsed the recommendation, ignoring criticism by some sections of lawyers’ community who were of the view that being number four on the seniority list, Justice Akhtar did not deserve to be elevated to the SC. This was the reason that the Sindh Bar Council’s (SBC) representatives held a press conference earlier this week in which they said that elevation of Justice Akhtar to the SC by bypassing three senior judges was in violation of the judgement announced in the Al-Jihad Trust case that set a precedent for appointment of judges.
The elevation was reportedly questioned by Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) representative Yousaf Laghari noting that three senior SHC judges, as well as the chief justices of other high courts, have not been considered.
However, Mr Laghari was told that it was not the first time that a junior judge had been considered for the apex court. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and CJP Nisar were also elevated to the apex court when retired Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif was the Lahore High Court’s chief justice.
The SC in its judgement in the Faqir Khokhar case has already maintained that elevation of a judge to the SC is a fresh appointment and a junior judge can also be considered for this.
It may be mentioned that the date of appointment of Justice Akhtar and the other three senior judges is the same i.e. Sept 25, 2009. The other three judges attained seniority since they were senior in age.
According to the official website of the SHC, the date of birth of Justice Akhtar is Dec 14, 1963. The date of birth of SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Sheikh is Oct 3, 1961, senior puisne judge Irfan Saadat Khan Feb 7, 1963 and Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi June 6, 1963.
Justice Akhtar is a son-in-law of former law minister Khalid Anwar and is considered a fine jurist in the legal fraternity.
Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2018