SC rebuts PBC’s claim about relationship between two judges

Published August 7, 2021
A combination photo of Justice Mushir Alam (L) and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar (R). — Dawn/File
A combination photo of Justice Mushir Alam (L) and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar (R). — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has described as “false attribution” an allegation that Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar is a relative of Justice Mushir Alam, a judge of the apex court.

Justice Mazhar, a judge of the Sindh High Court, was elevated to the Supreme Court by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) last month.

Senior members of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) had said at a press conference on Thursday that since Justice Mazhar was a “close relative” of Justice Mushir Alam, the latter should have abstained from the commission’s meeting during which the SHC judge’s nomination was approved.

In a statement on Friday, the Supreme Court dubbed the impression an “absolutely false attribution”, saying that Justice Mazhar was not even remotely related to Justice Alam.

“The impression conveyed by the said imputation is nothing but to malign the impeccable integrity of a judge, which is regrettable,” the statement said.

SHC CJ’s elevation

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed will chair a session of the JCP on Aug 10 to consider the elevation of Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh, the Sindh High Court’s Chief Justice, as an ad hoc judge of the apex court, according to a notification.

The JCP has decided to consider the ad hoc option because the sanctioned strength of the apex court — 17 judges, including the chief justice — stands completed after the elevation of Justice Mazhar.

Ad hoc judges are usually appointed in the Supreme Court on the basis of their expertise to help clear a backlog of cases.

Akhtar Hussain, a senior lawyer who represents the PBC in the JCP, questioned during Thursday’s press conference by members of the Pakistan Bar Council as to why the SHC chief justice was being considered for appointment as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court even though the JCP had not deemed him fit to be appointed as a permanent judge of the apex court.

The PBC members also pointed out that Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh had not given his consent for appointment in the Supreme Court.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday, the PBC had not only resolved to vigorously oppose the nomination of Justice Mazhar to the apex court but also oppose the idea of appointing ad hoc judges to the Supreme Court.

The resolution further said judges should not be reappointed to any position after retirement nor should they be granted extension in service as it compromises their judicial independence.

The PBC decided to convene an “All Pakistan Lawyers Convention” of bar associations and bar councils to raise awareness about its “principled stance” that the seniority principle be followed for appointment of judges.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2021

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