ISLAMABAD: The Judicial Commission of Paki­stan (JCP) recommended on Wednesday the elevation of Justice Musarrat Hilali, Chief Justice of the Pesh­awar High Court, to become the second woman judge of the Supreme Court.

Justice Ayesha A. Malik has already been serving as the SC’s first woman judge since last year.

The JCP is a constitutional b ody which recommends elevation of judges to superior courts.

Presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, the JCP approved the nomination to fill the long overdue vacant posts in the Supreme Court, an informed source confided to Dawn. Now the recommendation will be taken up by the eight-member bipartisan Parliamentary Committee soon.

With the elevation of Justice Hilali, the Supreme Court will now have 16 judges, including the CJP, against a sanctioned strength of 17. It is likely that the JCP may meet again in September or October to fill the lone vacant slot.

The JCP had elevated three judges to the apex court at its last meeting in October. That session saw a deadlock over a decision to ignore the seniority principle in picking judges for the Supreme Court.

The bar has also been clamouring for adherence to the seniority principle since elevating “junior judges demoralizes” other judges of high courts and “affects their work”. The practice goes against the principle of seniority as laid down in the Al Jehad case or the judges case, the bar councils point out.

Justice Musarrat Hilali had taken a number of measures after taking oath as PHC CJ on April 2 to reform the judicial system in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by constituting special benches for commercial and taxation disputes, criminal matters, service matters and civil, rent and family cases.

During a surprise visit to the District Courts in Peshawar, the PHC CJ had ordered judicial officers to follow court timings and desist from using social media and WhatsApp groups during business hours.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2023

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