ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday cancelled a full court reference earlier scheduled for Aug 11 to bid farewell to Justice Sajjad Ali Shah who is reaching superannuation on Aug 14.

According to an official handout, the full court reference scheduled in honour of Justice Syed Sajjad Ali Shah on Aug 11, has been cancelled on the request of the judge.

“Moreover, farewell dinner in honour of the judge has also been scaled down which shall now be held in Judges Colony on the request of Justice Syed Sajjad Ali Shah,” the press release said.

It is customary that the Supreme Court holds the full court reference consisting of all judges of the top court to eulogise the services rendered by outgoing judges.

In addition to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, speeches are also delivered at the full court reference by the outgoing judge, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), Vice Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council and President of Supreme Court Bar Association.

The reference is also attended by senior lawyers and family members of some of the judges.

After the references, the judges also interact with lawyers during tea outside the Courtroom No. 1 at the ceremonial hall. And in the evening the Supreme Court arranges a befitting dinner during which shields and bouquets were presented to outgoing judges followed by a sumptuous feast.

Currently AGP Ashtar Ausaf is unavailable and cannot attend the reference since he has just landed in the United Kingdom after having his medical treatment in the US. It is also a tradition that a senior or Additional Attorney General can be asked to represent the AGP by delivering his speech on the occasion.

Vice Chairman of PBC Hafeezur Rehman Chaudhry had come to the office of the council on Wednesday, but left the city soon after learning that the event has been cancelled.

Interestingly the leadership of the SCBA is on a 12-day pleasure ride to four European countries: France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. The delegation is being led by President of SCBA Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon.

When asked why the visit was planned on dates coincided with the full court reference, Mr Bhoon told Dawn that the visit had been scheduled much earlier, but dispelled the impression that the absence of the SCBA leadership has something to do with the Supreme Court’s rejection on July 25 the request of hearing Speaker of Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s plea by a full court consisting of all available judges.

Led by Latif Afridi, former presidents of the SCBA including Ahsan Bhoon had requested the top court to constitute a full court to hear the matter since the crisis had deepened, but the court rejected the plea.

“This is not a reaction,” Mr Bhoon said, adding what he felt was that the request to constitute the full court was made to provide the top court an opportunity of enhancing its dignity and prestige since “we believe that the interpretation done by the apex court in the presidential reference on Article 63A of the constitution that deals with the defection clause did not reflect sentiments of the people at large. Thus the full court reference was an attempt to provide the court the opportunity to undone what had been stated while interpreting the presidential reference,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2022

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