Parliamentary panel okays Justice Naqvi’s elevation to SC

Published March 13, 2020
Representation of judges in SC stands at seven from Punjab, five from Sindh, two from KP and one from Balochistan. — The Atlantic.com/File
Representation of judges in SC stands at seven from Punjab, five from Sindh, two from KP and one from Balochistan. — The Atlantic.com/File

ISLAMABAD: The eight-member bi-partisan Parliamen­tary Committee (PC) on appointment of judges on Thursday unanimously approved the elevation to the Supreme Court of Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi — a senior judge of the Lahore High Court.

Justice Naqvi’s appointment will fill the coveted office that fell vacant after the retirement of former chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa.

Justice Naqvi was earlier recommended to be appointed as judge of the apex court by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) in its meeting on March 4. It was presided over by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

An source privy to the development told Dawn that during the JCP meeting, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, also a member of the commission, objected to the elevation by highlighting that a judge from the Islamabad High Court should have been elevated since the apex court had no representation from the IHC.

Presided over by the chief justice, the JCP meeting was also attended by Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Maqbool Baqar and former judge of the Supreme Court Dost Mohammad Khan.

Provincial representation of judges in apex court is seven from Punjab, five from Sindh, two from KP and one from Balochistan

The JCP meeting was, however, not attended by Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan because of their preoccupation abroad as well as Pakistan Bar Council member Akhtar Hussain. But they have given their respective letter of consent regarding elevation of Justice Naqvi to the Supreme Court.

It was highlighted during the meeting that the present provincial representation of the judges of the apex court was seven from Punjab, five from Sindh, two from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one from Balochistan, but none from the IHC, the source said.

The last judge elevated to the Supreme Court from Balochistan was five-and-a-half years ago and from Sindh and KP about two years ago, the meeting was informed.

Though the Constitution does not mandate appointments by the province or territory, when all other provinces and the IHC are ignored for no discernible reasons and when chief justices and senior judges are bypassed, this give rise to misgivings and apprehensions. Before the approval by the PC, Justice Naqvi was at No. 3 in the seniority list of the LHC.

Among the senior judges from all high courts, Justice Naqvi is ninth in seniority and disregarding senior judges of other high courts would amount to expressing no confidence in them and undermines their commitment to the institution of judiciary, the JCP was suggested.

Justice Isa during the JCP meeting had also highlighted that selecting the most suitable person for the position was a sacred duty assigned to the members of JCP — an exercise which required application of mind. But the Constitution does not provide for “letter of consent” by the members who were absent from the meeting.

Had the letters of consent been provided to the members of the commission earlier, Justice Isa was quoted as saying, he would have personally contacted the members and persuaded them to attend the meeting and given opinion after careful consideration of the facts.

However, Justice Isa was told that the letter of consent was considered in view of the earlier precedence in this regard and the same had been considered in earlier meetings many a time as well.

Justice Isa also reminded that in the United States, selection of judges was made in front of the camera, public and was open to questions and answers.

He said that the meetings of the JCP were consultative in nature and it should be provided with an opportunity to convince or be convinced.

Meanwhile, other members of the JCP supported the elevation of Justice Naqvi to the Supreme Court by highlighting that he was a competent, sharp and brilliant judge having a balanced view in the criminal cases as well as the civil cases.

During the period of his judgeship in the LHC from Feb 19, 2010 to Feb 21, 2020, Justice Naqvi had decided around 36,919 cases, a majority of which — 27,359 cases — were decided by him singlehandedly while hearing cases in the single bench.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2020

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