ISLAMABAD: The federal government has again sought time from the Supreme Court for implementing its Jan 17 verdict on grant of rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).
The government had also asked for time during an earlier hearing in May, but Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti told a seven-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Acting Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, on Thursday that the matter was still under deliberation in the National Security Committee.
The acting chief justice cautioned the federal government to keep itself abreast of developments in the region and try to resolve the issue as early as possible lest some inimical forces take advantage of the situation.
The Supreme Court had taken up a case moved by the federal government through the Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Division seeking an extension in the deadline to comply with the Jan 17 judgement in which the Supreme Court had accorded approval to a freshly proposed presidential order enshrining a framework for governance in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The order required the government to carry out legislation for reforms in the province by tabling a bill in parliament.
One of the proposed amendments in the reforms is that the chief judge of the GB Supreme Appellate Court should nominate a judge for the court instead of the chief justice of Pakistan.
Two Gilgit-based lawyers have moved a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking revocation of the federal government’s May 6 notification under which Syed Arshad Hussain Shah was appointed Chief Judge of the GB Supreme Appellate Court.
Latif Shah, vice chairman of the Gilgit-Baltistan Bar Council, and Kamal Hussain, president of the Gilgit-Baltistan High Court Bar Association, filed the petition through their counsel Salman Akram Raja. They pleaded that the federal government should respect the principle of judiciary’s independence while making appointments to the GB Supreme Appellate Court.
The petitioners also urged the apex court to direct the federal government to promulgate the GB Governance Reforms in accordance with its Jan 17 verdict.
They requested the court to restrain Chief Judge Syed Arshad Hussain from performing his duties during pendency of their petition by keeping the government’s May 6 notification suspended.
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2019