Bars won’t fete judges who backed elevation

Published August 5, 2021
This photo shows  Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar. — Photo courtesy Sindh High Court website
This photo shows Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar. — Photo courtesy Sindh High Court website

ISLAMABAD: In a significant move, the legal fraternity has decided not to accord warm send-off to those retiring judges who as members of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) backed the recent elevation of a junior judge of the Sindh High Court to the apex court.

The decision was part of a 10-point resolution adopted at three-and-a-half-hour-long meeting of the representative body of bar councils and associations, which was presided over by Pakistan Bar Council vice chairman Khushdil Khan, held here at the Supreme Court building on Wednesday. The vice chairmen and chairmen executive committees of the provincial bar councils, presidents of different bar associations and PBC and the provincial bar councils representatives to the JCP also attended the meeting.

Representatives pin hopes on parliamentary panel for rejecting JCP’s recommendation

According to the resolution, the representative body would not only write letters to the eight-member bipartisan Parliamentary Committee (PC) on the Appointment of Judges with a request to take up the matter but also meet the PC members to convince them to decline the JCP nomination.

The PC was also established under Article 175-A of the Constitution side by side with the JCP.

At the meeting, it was resolved that the JCP members who in its July 28 meeting supported the elevation of Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar to the Supreme Court would not be given farewell dinners on their retirement.

Farewell dinners are a tradition to accord warm send-off to the retiring judges when the premier bar council and associations throw such dinners to honour the outgoing judge.

The JCP member who is set to retire in near future is Justice Mushir Alam who will be reaching superannuation on August 17.

On July 28, the JCP had cleared the nomination of Justice Mazhar — a junior judge of the Sindh High Court — by a majority of five to four.

Advocate Munir Kakar, a senior PBC member from Balochistan and Balochistan Bar Council representative in the JCP, told Dawn after attending the meeting that the PBC on Thursday would also take up the resolution adopted during the representative body meeting.

Mr Kakar deplored the absence of the Punjab Bar Council, the Punjab Bar Association, the Rawalpindi Bar Association and the Multan Bar Association from the meeting which was attended by the representatives of all smaller provinces of the country. According to him, their absence was not conducive for the national harmony since it inculcated a sense of inferiority and resentment among the smaller federating units.

He alleged that Justice Alam had opposed the nomination of the junior judge of the Sindh High Court into the Supreme Court on July 13 but favoured the elevation during the July 28 meeting of the JCP.

The representative meeting also resolved to hold conventions at provincial capitals to build a momentum against the nomination, also alleging that the bar members believed that the elevation of the junior judge was part of efforts to ratchet up pressure around Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

“The nomination will only bring an adverse impact to the dignity and honour of the judiciary,” Mr Kakar said, adding the resolution also asked to interact with different political parties in the parliament to consider repealing Article 175-A altogether which was amended through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution by creating JCP and PC on the appointment of the superior court judges.

The resolution believes Article 175-A disturbed the balance between the institution of the judiciary and other stakeholders on the issue of the appointment of judges by giving an ‘upper hand’ to the JCP in the appointment of judges and making the PC a ‘toothless body’.

It was decided that senior lawyers including Khushdil Khan and Mohammad Faheem Wali of the PBC besides Supreme Court Bar Association President Abdul Latif Afridi would meet the PC members to convince them to decline the nomination as the committee was expected to take up the JCP recommendation for consideration soon. In case, the PC rejects the nomination, according to the 2011 Munir Bhatti case, the committee may have to record reasons, also susceptible to a judicial review.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2021

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