Appointment of judges in SHC, lower judiciary challenged

Published August 15, 2020
The petition has named as respondents the Sindh High Court chief justice and registrar and the provincial law ministry, as well as the federal government. — Wikimedia Commons/File
The petition has named as respondents the Sindh High Court chief justice and registrar and the provincial law ministry, as well as the federal government. — Wikimedia Commons/File

ISLAMABAD: Appointment of judges in the Sindh High Court (SHC) and civil and additional district judges in the lower judiciary of the province since 2017 has been called into question through a petition moved before the Supreme Court.

The petition filed by Ghulam Sarwar Qureshi through his counsel Khawaja Shamsul Islam requested the apex court to declare the appointment of judges and other staff in the SHC as well as civil and additional district judges in the subordinate judiciary from 2017 till date as illegal, mala fide, unlawful, ultra vires, unconstitutional and null and void, having no legal effect.

The petition has named as respondents the Sindh High Court chief justice and registrar and the provincial law ministry, as well as the federal government.

The petition requested the Supreme Court to order constitution of an investigation commission consisting of senior judges of the apex court as well as the senior-most judges of the SHC to scrutinise the record of appointments made in the high court and the district judiciary of Sindh since 2017.

The petition believed that all such appointments were made in flagrant violations of the rules and regulations applicable in such employments.

Petitioner believes all such recruitments since 2017 were made in violation of rules

The Supreme Court should also order the SHC registrar as well as the Sindh law ministry to produce the entire record of the appointments made in the high court and the lower judiciary from 2017 till date, the petition argued.

Similarly, it said, the apex court should also order the registrar and chief justice of the SHC and the provincial law ministry to de-notify the appointments made in the high court and the lower judiciary after 2017 and direct initiation of an inquiry against the respondents and all judges of Sindh since their appointments were made in violation of the relevant rules and regulations.

The apex court was also pleaded to issue a restraining order against the respondents from making any further appointments in the SHC as well as in the district courts till a decision on the petition.

The petition is reminiscent of a Sept 26, 2016 Supreme Court verdict in which all recruitments, appointments, deputation, absorption and reappointments in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) from 2011 to the end of 2012 were de-notified.

In a damning declaration, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, then a judge of the apex court, had held that the IHC chief justice and/or the administration committee of the high court had made appointments in the establishment (high court) in complete disregard of the mandate given by the rules framed under Article 208 of the Constitution.

The judgement had come on a petition filed by Advocate Arif Chaudhry on behalf of Advocate Chaudhry Mohammad Akram, a former vice president of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association.

The petition had requested the apex court to take a judicial note of a number of appointments made in the IHC of which at least two were close relatives of the sitting judges.

Days after the judgement, Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman of the Supreme Court tendered his resignation because he also served as the Islamabad High Court chief justice, though, except one or two, all the appointments were made by his predecessor.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2020

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