PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday sought replies from a parliamentary committee and the law and justice ministry on the petition of senior Supreme Court lawyer Mohammad Tariq Afridi against the rejection of his nomination for appointment as a high court additional judge.

A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim fixed Oct 16 for the next hearing into the petition while issuing notices to the two respondents, parliamentary committee and the law and justice ministry through its secretary, asking them to respond to the petition on the next hearing.

The lawyer requested the high court to declare unconstitutional and void the July 8 decision of the parliamentary committee to reject the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan for high court appointments.

He requested the court to direct the federal government to accept the July 2, 2019, recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan and send the name of the petitioner to the president for appointment as an additional judge of the Peshawar High Court for one year.

Abdul Samad Khan, lawyer for the petitioner, said the parliamentary committee constituted under Clause 9 of Article 175-A of the Constitution couldn’t reject the recommendations of the Judicial Commission regarding the competence, calibre and integrity of a Supreme Court lawyer.

He said the parliamentary committee had no powers to veto the decision of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan.

The lawyer said for determining the competence, calibre and integrity of a proposed high court additional judge, the chief justice of the relevant high court and the Judicial Commission of Pakistan had the exclusive jurisdiction and powers, which couldn’t be shared by any parliamentary committee.

He said five posts of PHC judges were vacant and the high court chief justice along with relevant judges scrutinised the record of the petitioner and others before recommending names for appointment as additional judges for one year.

The lawyer said on July 2, the Judicial Commission of Pakistan consisting of 13 members re-examined the names forwarded by the chief justice and recommended those five candidates, including the petitioner, for appointment before submitting recommendation with record to the parliamentary committee.

He said the parliamentary committee had rejected on July 8 the petitioner’s nomination, while acting on the decision of the committee, the federal government didn’t send the petitioner’s name to the president for the notification of his appointment.

The lawyer wondered if the parliamentary committee had the power to veto the selection made by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Bar Council and KP Bar Council also filed applications seeking their inclusion in the petition as respondents saying they’re necessary parties to the case.

The bench issued notices to respondents asking them to respond to the applications on next hearing.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2019