President Alvi appoints Justice Musarrat Hilali to Supreme Court

Published July 5, 2023
A photo of Justice Musarrat Hilali. — APP
A photo of Justice Musarrat Hilali. — APP

President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday appointed Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Musarrat Hilali as a judge of the Supreme Court, according to a notification issued from the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The notification, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said her appointment would come into effect when she takes her oath.

A day ago, an eight-member Parlia­men­tary Committee on Judges’ Appointments approved the unanimous approval given by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) on June 14 to elevate Justice Hilali to the apex court.

With her elevation, the Supreme Court will have two women judges, with the first being Justice Ayesha A. Malik. Meanwhile, the number of judges on the top court will increase to 16 out of a total sanctioned strength of 17.

Justice Hilali’s name was suggested by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court, in his letter dated May 2 to all JCP members, emphasising the need for an early meeting to fill two vacant offices of judges in the SC.

Justice Isa’s letter had also urged the immediate filling of the vacancies in the top court, recommending the nomination of judges in advance while considering the principle of seniority.

Who is Justice Musarrat Hilali?

Justice Hilali was sworn in as the first woman chief justice of the PHC on April 1 after Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan retired from the post.

Following this development, she also became the second female judge to become the chief justice of a high court in Pakistan after Justice Tahira Safdar, the chief justice of the Balochistan High Court from September 2018 to October 2019.

Justice Hilali was born in Peshawar on Aug 8, 1961.

She received her law degree from Khyber Law College, University of Peshawar, and was enrolled as an advocate of district courts in 1983. She was enrolled as an advocate of the high court in 1988 and that of the Supreme Court in 2006.

Justice Hilali has earned several distinctions in her career — first as a civil society activist and member of the bar and then her elevation to the bench. Known as an outspoken human rights activist, she remained office-bearer of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and also headed its KP chapter on different occasions.

Justice Hilali was an active member of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association and served as its first female secretary, vice president and general secretary. She was also twice elected as an executive member of the Supreme Court Bar Association for 2007-8 and 2008-9.

She served as the first woman additional advocate general from November 2001 to March 2004 and as chairperson of the KP Environmental Protection Tribunal as well.

Justice Hilali was also the first provincial ombudsperson appointed in 2010 under the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010. She was elevated to the bench as an additional judge on March 26, 2013, and was confirmed as a judge of the high court on March 13, 2014.

Additionally, Justice Hilali remained a focal member of the 2007 Lawyers’ Movement — started after a reference was filed against then-CJP Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry — during which she courageously stood alongside the rest of the male-majority legal fraternity.

During that movement, one of her legs got fractured when police raided her residence for arresting her.

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