ISLAMABAD: Following in the footsteps of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), different bar councils and associations have also announced that they will observe black day on Wednesday (today) when the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) will deliberate on elevation of a junior judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC).
A day ahead of the scheduled JCP meeting, the PBC, a premier regulatory body of the lawyers, finally appointed senior counsel Akhtar Hussain to convey its concerns over the commission’s choice to fill the vacant office of a judge in the Supreme Court.
During a meeting hurriedly called by its vice chairman Khushdil Khan on Tuesday, the PBC nominated Mr Hussain as a JCP member for the second time as his two-year term expired in June.
Mr Khan told Dawn that though the PBC had given a countrywide strike call, Mr Hussain will represent the council in the commission’s meeting on Wednesday to oppose the idea of elevating a judge, who was fifth in the seniority hierarchy of the SHC. He will also try to convince the JCP on the BPC’s stand on the seniority principle regarding the appointment of superior court judges.
Akhtar Hussain to convey to JCP PBC’s concern over elevation of junior SHC judge to apex court
According to the PBC announcement, Mr Hussain has been nominated as JCP member under Rule 91 of the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Rules, 1976, in terms of Article 175-A(2)(vi) of the Constitution, for two years.
In its last meeting on July 13, the JCP had recommended the elevation of Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court Jamal Khan Mandokhel to the Supreme Court, but deferred consideration of Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar’s elevation in view of the concerns expressed by the lawyers’ fraternity for bypassing the seniority principle.
Khushdil Khan said Mr Hussain would inform the commission about the resolutions adopted by different bar councils and associations, including the PBC. In case the JCP preferred to appoint the junior judge, he warned, the council will be constrained to adopt a future line of action after a deliberation on how to continue protest.
On Monday, the PBC had stated that though the nomination of Justice Mazhar was deferred, his name was again pushed forward within a short span of 15 days — a development that had raised reservations of the legal fraternity.
In addition to the PBC, the Sindh Bar Council (SBC), Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) and Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) have also resolved to observe black day and boycott court proceedings on Wednesday, besides holding general body meetings.
The SHCBA has also resolved to stage protest and challenge at all available forums if any out-of-turn appointments were made in the apex court. The association said it did not understand the reasons for calling a meeting of the JCP again in such haste, particularly when one member of the commission, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, was in quarantine due to Covid-19.
The SHCBA has also urged the JCP to convene a session of all stakeholders, solicit suggestions and discuss framing of transparent and objective criteria by giving defined weightage to the seniority principle to structure the discretion of the commission on the appointment of judges and permanently eliminate any impression of favouritism and nepotism.
Likewise, the SBC, through a July 26 resolution, has also expressed disappointment that its suggestion was not only ignored but the proposal to elevate a junior judge was being repeated. The council said that the reasons for following the seniority principle in relation to the appointment of chief justices were already explained in Supreme Court’s judgements in Al-Jehad and Malik Asad Ali cases.
It would be absolute illogical to say that if someone is unfit to be appointed as a junior judge of the Supreme Court he is fit enough to be the chief justice of a high court in a province of 50 million people, the resolution says, adding that the people of all provinces should be paid equal regard.
The Balochistan Bar Council has stated that it had observed strike on July 12 and the JCP had deferred its consideration about elevation of a junior judge of the SHC.
Since the same nomination has been floated again, the lawyers of Balochistan feel serious reservations over the violation as laid down by the Supreme Court through its different judgements, the council says. Therefore, such violations would lose the trust and confidence over the JCP, it adds.
Published in Dawn, July 28th , 2021