PESHAWAR: Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan was sworn-in as the chief justice of the Peshawar High Court at the Governor’s House here on Saturday.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman administered the oath to him.
The chief justice’s post had fallen vacant on Nov 12 after the incumbent, Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, died of novel coronavirus.
The country’s president appointed Justice Qaiser, the senior puisne judge of the high court, as the chief justice under Article 193(1) of the Constitution on the recommendation of the judicial commission for the appointment of judges, while the law and justice ministry notified the appointment on Jan 5.
On Nov 16, Justice Qaiser had taken oath as the acting chief justice of the high court.
Beside high court judges and senior lawyers, the oath-taking ceremony was also attended by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, ministers Taimur Saleem Jhagra, Qalandar Khan Lodhi and Sultan Mohammad Khan, special assistant to the chief minister Kamran Bangash, chief secretary Dr Kazim Niaz, provincial police chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, advocate general Shumail Ahmad Butt, and others.
Justice Qaiser was born in Thana area of Malakand district on Mar 31, 1961.
A leading figure in the 2007-09 lawyers’ movement for judicial independence from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he was the first lawyer to be arrested after the imposition of an emergency rule in the country on Nov 3, 2007, by the then military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf. He was sent to the Dera Ismail Khan Central Prison under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.
Justice Qaiser had graduated from the historical Islamia College, Peshawar, in 1981 and got his law degree from the Khyber Law College, Peshawar, in 1984. He had also done his master’s in political science and journalism from the University of Peshawar in 1987 and 1991, respectively. He was enrolled as an advocate of lower courts in 1984 and that of high court and the Supreme Court in 1991 and 2008, respectively.
Justice Qaiser and former chief justice Waqar Ahmad Seth were made the additional judges of the high court the same day, Aug 2, 2011.
Justice Qaiser was a popular figure of the lawyers, which is evident from his election as a member of the KP Bar Council for two consecutive terms in Nov 1988 and Apr 2004. He was also elected as a member of the Pakistan Bar Council on Dec 22, 2010, with the highest votes among elected members across the country.
Justice Qaiser also remained the additional advocate general of the province from Mar 17, 2008, to his resignation on Mar 25, 2010.
As a high court judge, he is known for taking keen interest in issues of public interest, especially healthcare, education, forestry, human rights, tourism and environment.
He also has to his credit the recent enactment of a law by the provincial government to limit schoolbag weight as he was heading a two-member bench, which had ordered the government in Apr 2019 to legislate in that regard. While heading different benches from time to time, he continued to issue directives to the government regarding the enactment of the said law.
Justice Qaiser also issued orders on different occasions for the removal of mobile phone base transceiver stations over threats to human health due to installation in close proximity to the population.
He has regularly been heading a bench hearing health-related issues. He has issued numerous orders to the Federal Investigation Agency and KP Health Care Commission for action against illegal human organ transplantation and illegal clinics run by quacks.
While hearing dengue-related petitions, he had issued several directives to the government during the last couple of years for taking steps to check the outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease.
Senior lawyers here believe that it will be a challenging task for Justice Qaiser Rashid as the chief justice to step into his predecessor Justice Waqar Seth’s shoes as the latter was known for his uncompromising stand on civil liberties and supremacy of the Constitution.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2021