ISLAMABAD: The June 28 marathon session of the Judicial Com­mission of Pakistan (JCP) which met to consider elevation of seven judges to the Sindh High Court (SHC) but remained inconclusive, was adjourned with an understanding that in future absence of a member would not be accepted as an excuse to adjourn the session, an informed source told Dawn.

JCP’s next meeting is expected in the first or second week of August since some members of the commission were either abroad or had to go to perform Haj at that time.

The chief justice of Pakistan, who heads the commission, presided over the JCP meeting remotely from his residence through video link since he was unwell at that time. Senior puisne judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa was hooked from Spain.

Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali could not attend the session since he too was reportedly unwell at that time. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who also holds the portfolio of law minister, though attended the meeting, came out with an excuse that since he was involved in the budget-making process, he could not go through the antecedents of the nominees picked up for their elevation to the high court.

Absence of a member won’t be an excuse to adjourn session, JCP resolves

The candidates selected to become SHC additional judges were: Amjad Ali Bohio, Muhammad Saeed Qureshi, Mohammad Abdur Rehman, Khurram Rashid, Rashid Mustafa, Khadim Hussain Soomro and Arbab Ali Hakro.

These names were recommended by SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh on the basis of their competence and capability to become additional judges of the high court and if they come up to the expectations of the JCP, they may be confirmed or dropped as judge of the SHC.

Though the JCP discussed professional calibre and performance of the selected individuals, it could not come out with a definite decision since some of the members of the commission had a difference of opinion as they wanted either to drop the nominees or deferred consideration for the time being.

However, the majority of the members were inclined to recommend to the Parliamentary Committee of the National Assembly to consider at least the nomination of three out of seven candidates.

Consequently, the meeting was postponed to provide the members of the commission further time to examine the professional record, integrity and overall reputation of the nominees.

Earlier, before considering the suggestions of the SHC chief justice, the commission had constituted a four-member committee under Rule 6 of the JCP Rules 2010 to verify the antecedents of the nominees. The members of the committee who were also members of the JCP consists of Justice Sardar Tariq Masood — judge of the Supreme Court, Senior puisne judge of the SHC Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, AGP Ashtar Ausaf Ali and Sindh Bar Council member Syed Haider Imam Rizvi.

In addition to the four-member committee, the CJP had also constituted a two-member committee consisting of apex court judge Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and the SHC chief justice to evaluate professional calibre, their conduct as a lawyer and performance.

The June 28 meeting of the commission preceded before Justice Isa’s three-page letter in which the senior puisne judge had taken exception to the calling of the meeting with a suggestion that it should be postponed until the scheduled vacations of the court was over.

Justice Isa had also emphasised that the Constitution places a heavy responsibility on all members of the JCP to abide by their constitutional duty.

But they are not allowed to undertake their constitutional duties in a meaningful way, Justice Isa had regretted, adding the people of this great nation deserve much better.

Likewise, on June 23, JCP member Syed Haider Imam Rizvi had written a letter to CJP highlighting the need of expediting the rule-making and settling transparent, consistent, well-defined appointment criteria since the vague and overly-broad qualities such as competence, integrity, capacity and temperament was not sufficient.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2022

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