ISLAMABAD: A fresh list of 12 nominees for elevation as judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has surfaced after a delay of over two months.
Last time the elevation process was interrupted after LHC Chief Justice Mohammad Qasim Khan withdrew the entire list of 16 proposed names during a meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) on Jan 12.
Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, the JCP had to postpone its meeting. As a fresh list has been finalised for the commission’s consideration, its meeting will be fixed again.
The LHC CJ had earlier withdrawn the list containing 16 names for reconsideration, according to reports, since none of the commission members seemed satisfied with the suggestions.
It was stated then that the JC’s antecedent committee was not happy over nomination of some candidates for the position of LHC judges despite the fact that the names had been finalised after consultation with the bar councils and associations as well as extensive consultations with other stakeholders.
While the JPC meeting is likely to be called next week commencing from April 12, the fresh list in wide circulation includes the names of Barrister Sultan Tanvir Ahmad, Assistant Advocate General for Punjab Mohammad Tariq Nadim, Ahmad Nadeem Arshad, Ali Zia Bajwa, Abid Hussain Chathha, Additional Advocate General Mohammad Shan Gul, Mohammad Raheel Kamran Sheikh, Mohammad Raza Qureshi, Anwaar Hussain, Additional Prosecutor General Mohammad Amjad Rafiq and district and sessions judges Safdar Salim Shahid and Shakil Ahmad.
Eight of the names, which reappeared on the fresh list, are Barrister Sultan Tanvir Ahmad, Mohammad Tariq Nadim, Ali Zia Bajwa, Abid Hussain Chathha, Mohammad Shan Gul, Mohammad Raheel Kamran Sheikh, Mohammad Amjad Rafiq and Safdar Salim Shahid.
On Jan 12, the LHC CJ withdrew the names after coming across some more details about the proposed candidates, with the result that JCP’s consultation had to be postponed after a brief meeting. The high court chief justice told the commission members that after he sent the list of the nominees for elevation as judges to the commission, he got some more information about the individuals.
During the meeting, the LHC chief justice had expressed the desire that he would like to go through the fresh information about the nominees again and, therefore, needed to reconsider the list of proposed candidates. Consequently, he withdrew the entire list and sought more time to come up with a fresh list.
A recently elected member of the Pakistan Bar Council — the mother body that regulates the affairs of the legal fraternity — conceded that the list which was withdrawn by the LHC chief justice had been finalised after extensive consultations with the bar councils and bar associations during the process of which many times the names were dropped and then added.
Currently, 38 judges are performing the judicial duties against the sanctioned strength of 60 in the LHC. The process for elevation has been initiated after a delay of two years.
The JCP had considered 16 names during its meeting in 2016 of which eight additional judges were confirmed. Similarly, a batch of another eight individuals was considered by the commission in 2018 of which one resigned and five others were confirmed later as full judges of the LHC.
With almost 188,241 pending cases, LHC judges are overworked, which is affecting their health, besides bringing inconvenience to the litigants who have to wait for years for justice.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2021