ISLAMABAD: The much-needed elevation process of judges to the Lahore High Court hit snags on Tuesday when LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan withdrew the entire list of 16 proposed names.
Consequently, a meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed had to be postponed and would be fixed again after a fresh list was finalised for consideration by the commission.
A source privy to the development confided to Dawn that the LHC chief justice withdrew the list as none of the members of the commission appeared to be satisfied with the suggestions.
“It seems that the Antecedent Committee of the JCP was not happy with the names of some of the candidates to be appointed as judges of the LHC,” the source said, adding that this time the names were finalised after consultation with the bar councils and associations as well as other stakeholders.
A senior counsel on condition of anonymity termed the postponement of the elevation process damaging and not good for the judiciary, especially when the entire process had reached an advanced stage. However, he said withdrawing the names at the outset of the meeting was better than all together rejecting the same after discussing the credentials of each individual one by one in detail. This might have brought embarrassment to the candidates, he added.
However, the counsel conceded that the list also contained the names of candidates enjoying good reputation in terms of their professionalism as well as overall respect in society. Therefore, he added, they should be included in the fresh list to be finalised again as there was no such bar or restriction in this regard.
Currently, the counsel said, 40 judges are performing judicial duties against the sanctioned strength of 60 judges in the high court as the elevation process was being carried out after a delay of two years.
Earlier, the JCP had considered the 16 names during its meeting in 2016 and eight additional judges were confirmed. Similarly, another eight individuals were considered by the JCP in 2018. One of them resigned while five were confirmed later as full judges of the LHC.
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), which regulates the affairs of the legal fraternity, has been demanding for the past many years that the JCP suitably amend the appointment procedure and has even submitted a set of amendments to the commission.
Those proposed to be appointed as judges of the high court included incumbent Advocate General for Punjab Muhammad Shan Gul, Assistant Advocate General for Punjab Muhammad Tariq Nadeem, advocates Barrister Sultan Tanvir Ahmad, Muhammad Sarfraz Cheema, Ali Zia Bajwa, Iftikhan Ahmad Mian, Ahmad Nadeem Arshad, Hassan Nawaz Makhdoom, Muhammad Asif Saeed Rana, Abid Hussain Chatha, Mohammad Raheel Kamran Sheikh, Syed Intikhab Hussain Shah, Additional Prosecutor General Muhammad Amjad Rafiq and district and sessions judges Chaudhry Hamayun Imtiaz, Safdar Salim Shahid and Irfan Ahmad Saeed.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2021