KARACHI: The Sindh Bar Council (SBC) on Saturday said that the legal fraternity will boycott legal proceedings across the province on Monday in protest over nomination of junior judges of high courts for elevation to the Supreme Court.
Speaking at a press conference at the SBC office, Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) members Akhtar Hussain and Syed Haider Imam Rizvi, who represent the Pakistan Bar Council and SBC in the JCP, demanded that the appointments in the apex court be made transparently and on the principle of seniority rather than through “jostling and manoeuvring”.
Accompanied by SBC vice chairman Zulfiqar Ali Jalbani and others, they expressed dismay over the decision of the chief justice of Pakistan, who is also JCP chairman, for only nominating two judges from the Sindh High Court (SHC) for their appointment as SC judges despite three vacancies that had been created following the retirement of as many judges belonged to Sindh.
The JCP is likely to meet on Monday to consider the names of Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Shahid Waheed of Lahore High Court and Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shafi Siddiqui of SHC.
SBC demands elevation of high court judges on seniority basis
They further said that three posts of judges in the apex court fell vacant after retirement of Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, but only two judges were nominated from the SHC.
They said the number of judges from Punjab will go up to eight at the expense of judges from Sindh.
In the last JCP meeting, the CJP had himself stressed the need to observe the informal provincial quotas and even ethnic balance within the apex court and abandonment from such principle created great resentment within the smaller provinces, they added.
The lawyers’ representatives maintained that SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh was the most senior high court judge in the country, but he was not nominated for elevation to the apex court.
“By refusing to elevate him to the apex court even after five years, it is as if the commission has sent a message to the people of Sindh that while Justice Shaikh may be considered good enough for them — he is not good enough for the people of Pakistan,” they maintained.
They further stated that Justice Rizvi and Justice Siddiqui, who are at number four and six in the seniority list, respectively, were again nominated along with Justice Waheed of LHC, who is on fourth in the seniority list, after their nominations were rejected by JCP on July 28 as being an unjustifiable deviation from the seniority principle.
“It is speculated the reason for nominating the same names again is that the attorney general and law minister have been persuaded to review their previous position that the seniority principle should not be deviated from and that rules must be framed to regulate the criteria for appointment of judges,” they added.
They asked the JCP to appoint three senior most judges of SHC to the apex court and appoint the fourth in line as chief justice of the SHC.
Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2022