Parliamentary panel approves Justice Ayesha Malik’s appointment to Supreme Court

Published January 20, 2022
A file photo of Justice Ayesha Malik. — Photo courtesy Punjab Judicial Academy website
A file photo of Justice Ayesha Malik. — Photo courtesy Punjab Judicial Academy website

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on appointment of judges on Wednesday confirmed the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik to the Supreme Court. This means that she only requires the president’s formal assent to become the first woman to be elevated to the country’s top court.

However, the committee chaired by Senator Farooq H. Naek rejected the names of three lower court judges that were put forward by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) for elevation to the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

Justice Malik will remain a judge of the Supreme Court until March 2031 and may even have a chance to become the first woman to hold the post of chief justice.

JCP asked to reconsider elevation of three KP district judiciary officers to PHC

Following the parliamentary committee meeting, Mr Naek told reporters that Justice Malik’s elevation was approved unanimously. He maintained that the body did not compromise on seniority rules, adding that since Justice Malik would be the first woman judge in the apex court and had a reputation for competence and integrity, the committee had voted in her favour.

But sources said the committee had also deliberated on the concerns raised by bar councils and lawyers’ representative bodies, who had objected to her nomination as a judge of the Supreme Court.

After a heated session on Jan 6 that lasted for over three hours, the JCP recommended Justice Malik’s name by a majority of five votes to four.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, senior puisne judge Justice Umar Ata Bandial, former judge Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem and Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan had supported Justice Malik’s candidature, while Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Pakistan Bar Council representative Akhtar Hussain opposed the selection.

PHC judges

On Wednesday, the parliamentary committee also rejected three of the six nominees, proposed by the JCP for elevation to the Peshawar High Court.

The commission had recommended the elevation of Nowshera district and sessions judge (DSJ) Fazal Subhan, Peshawar Accountability Court Administrative Judge Shahid Khan and Special Cou­rt Presiding Officer Dr Khurshid Iqbal, alongside Khyber Pakhtun­khwa Ad­­ditional Advocate General Kamran Hayat Miankhel and Supreme Court lawyers Mohammad Ijaz Khan and Mohammad Faheem Wali.

However, sources said the parliamentary committee dropped the names of the three lower court judges and referred the matter to the JCP for reconsideration.

The committee was of the view that two judges from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Service, Asim Imam and Kaleem Khan, were on top of the seniority list.

The committee was told that the KP Judicial Services Tribunal had confirmed the seniority of Kaleem Khan, while Mr Imam was the next senior-most, having served as an anti-terrorism court judge in Swat and Hangu.

The parliamentary committee asked the JCP to reconsider the nomination of three judges from the district judiciary in the light of the service tribunal’s verdict.

However, the committee approved the nomination of lawyers Kamran Hayat Miankhel, Ijaz Khan and Faheem Wali.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2022

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