ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Judges Appointment on Thursday endorsed the Judicial Commission of Pakistan’s (JCP) recommendation for the appointment of Justice Athar Minallah as the next chief justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, JCP on Nov 1 recommended Justice Minallah for the post of IHC chief justice.
Justice Minallah will assume office of IHC chief justice on Nov 27 as the incumbent chief justice, Mohammad Anwar Khan will attain the age of superannuation on Nov 28.
As per Article 175-A of the Constitution, the eight-member parliamentary committee will send the confirmation of Justice Minallah to the prime minister who shall forward it to the president for appointment.
He will be the third IHC chief justice since the high court was re-established in Jan 2011.
IHC was established during the regime of ex-military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf.
Sardar Mohammad Aslam was the first IHC chief justice and after his elevation to the Supreme Court (SC), a judge of the Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice M. Bilal Khan became the chief justice.
In its July 31, 2009 judgement, SC sacked over 100 judges of the superior judiciary and declared IHC void.
IHC was revived under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the Islamabad High Court Act, 2010 was promulgated.
The act provides a chief justice and six judges from the provinces and territories. After the re-establishment, another LHC judge, Iqbar Hameedur Rehman was appointed the IHC chief justice. He was elevated to SC in Feb 2013 and Justice Anwar Kasi was made the chief justice.
Justice Athar Minallah was third on the seniority list in the IHC till the sacking of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, the former senior puisne judge who was removed last month for accusing the Inter Services Intelligence, the premier intelligence agency, of manipulating decisions of the superior judiciary in a speech delivered during an event organised by the Rawalpindi Bar Association.
Subsequently, Justice Minallah became the senior puisne judge.
Though Justice Siddiqui has filed a petition before SC to stop the oath taking till a decision on his petition — in which he challenged his removal — is taken, the Parliamentary Committee on Judges Appointment on Thursday finalised the appointment of Justice Minallah as the next IHC chief justice.
Justice Minallah is the eldest son of Nasrum Minallah, who was a commissioner during the 1960s and 70s. He is the son-in-law of Justice Safdar Shah who was part of the bench that convicted and sentenced former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but wrote a dissenting note against the conviction, for which he faced the wrath of the then military dictator, Gen Ziaul Haq.
Justice Minallah joined Pakistan Customs and rose to senior positions but later resigned and started practicing law.
Following the sacking of former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, he joined the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of the judiciary.
However, after Justice Chaudhry’s restoration, he became a critic of the judiciary because of excessive suo motu cases which led to the pendency of routine cases.
Justice Minallah was appointed as IHC judge in June 2014 and is considered one of the finest judges in the superior judiciary.
In the last few years, he authored landmark judgements in matters related to civil litigation including real estate, criminal cases, the environment and missing persons.
Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018