Ex-AJK judge seeks to challenge verdict annulling his appointment

Updated November 17, 2019

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AJK President Sardar Masood Khan (left) administering the oath to Justice Azhar Saleem Babar as acting Chief Justice of the AJK High Court on Saturday.— APP
AJK President Sardar Masood Khan (left) administering the oath to Justice Azhar Saleem Babar as acting Chief Justice of the AJK High Court on Saturday.— APP

MUZAFFARABAD: Former judge M. Tabassum Aftab Alvi filed a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Supreme Court on Saturday against two judgements of the AJK High Court (AJKHC) declaring his appointment as judge and subsequently as chief justice of the high court null and void.

Along with the PLA, a formal request for a court to review the judgement given at the end of a trial, Mr Alvi also filed an application for interim relief, which would be taken up by the apex court in its Mirpur circuit bench on Monday.

Mr Alvi was appointed from the bar as HC judge in Feb 2011 and elevated to the position of chief justice in April 2017.

In 2015, a Muzaffarabad-based lawyer Ahmed Nawaz Tanoli challenged his appointment on the grounds that it was “devoid of consultation” by the then HC chief justice.

Earlier petitions challenging Alvi’s appointment were dismissed by the high court

The petition was dismissed by a larger bench of the HC, holding that since no one had challenged Mr Alvi’s appointment between 2011 and 2015, it should be assumed that consultation was made in his case. The very judgement was upheld by the AJK Supreme Court which observed that Mr Tanoli had filed the petition with malafide intention at the behest of the Shariat Court judges whose appointment was nullified by Mr Alvi.

Earlier this year, Raja Wasim Younus, a Bhimber-based lawyer, emerged with an identical petition against the appointment of Mr Alvi, which was dismissed by a single member HC bench comprising Raja Shiraz Kiani, maintaining that the “litigation on the same issue could not be done again and again”.

However, the dismissal order was set aside by the Supreme Court after it was challenged by Mr Younus. The apex court referred the case to the high court with a directive to decide it within 45 days.

But senior HC judge Azhar Saleem Babar disassociated himself from that bench, citing code of conduct for judges did not allow him to be a party in a case where his personal interest was involved.

A fresh bench comprising Justice Kiani and Justice Sadqat Hussain Raja was constituted for this case, which ended up with a dissenting judgement on Nov 1.

While Justice Kiani dismissed the petition, it was accepted by Justice Raja. The matter was then referred to Justice Azhar Saleem Babar, the senior most judge of the AJK High Court, as referee judge.

In his decision announced on Friday, Justice Babar also accepted the petition and declared the appointment of Mr Alvi as the high court judge null and void and held that he shall cease to hold the office of chief justice forthwith.

On Saturday, while Justice Babar was administered oath by AJK President Sardar Masood Khan as acting AJKHC chief justice, at Kashmir House in Islamabad, Mr Alvi filed the petition through his lawyers Abdul Rasheed Abbasi and Sakhawat Hussain Awan in the apex court’s principal seat in Muzaffarabad along with an application for interim relief.

Among other things, Mr Alvi’s counsel maintained that the judgements of the high court judges dated Nov 1 and 15 were “against the provisions of the [AJK] constitution, based on misinterpretation and wrong application of constitutional provisions, law and judgments of the superior courts including the apex court”.

Mr Alvi has nominated Raja Wasim Younus advocate as a respondent and the AJK Council chairman and AJK president through their secretaries, AJK government through chief secretary, and law, justice and parliamentary affairs dep­art­­ment as pro forma respondents.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2019