Justice Mohammad Ibrahim
Justice Mohammad Ibrahim

PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan will lay down his robes tomorrow (Sunday) following more than three decades of judicial career.

Senior puisne judge Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim will take the oath as acting chief justice on Monday, April 15. The second-most senior judge, Justice Ijaz Anwar, will administer the oath to him.

A notification issued by the ministry of law and justice on Friday pronounced the appointment of Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim as the acting chief justice of the high court by President Asif Ali Zardari until his confirmation as the regular chief justice by the parliamentary committee for the appointment of judges.

On March 30, the Judicial Commission of Pakistan recommended the appointment of Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim as the regular chief justice. Now, the decision awaits the nod of the parliamentary committee.

Current chief justice to retire tomorrow

Outgoing CJ Mohammad Ibrahim Khan served against the post for over nine months, which turns out to be an eventful period due to decisions in a large number of high profile cases. Justice Khan was initially appointed as the acting CJ to the high court on July 6, 2023, but was notified on Aug 22 for the position on a regular basis.

His admirers believe that Justice Khan assumed charge as chief justice during some unusual times as the court was flooded with cases of political nature, especially pertaining to ‘civil liberties’, and he as well as other judges of the court had provided relief to hundreds of aggrieved persons.

The high court set aside detention orders for around 1,000 people by deputy commissioners in different cities, including Peshawar, under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.

Similarly, the PTI leaders from other provinces, who had been in hiding, also approached the high court to get transit and protective bails. They were granted transit bails under the law for approaching the relevant courts for the resolution of their grievances.

While approaching the end of his career in the high court, a letter sent to Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa by Justice Khan on April 1 created ripples in the legal circles.

In that letter, Justice Khan expressed concern regarding the non-consideration for the elevation of judges to the Supreme Court from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

 Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim
Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim

In the four-page letter, Justice Ibrahim Khan said: “There were four vacancies in the Supreme Court, but only one vacancy was filled by appointing my brother, Honourable Judge Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan of Balochistan High Court the then Chief Justice Balochistan High Court.”

“It was a profound disappointment when I learned that only one judge, and that too from your own province, was appointed in the Supreme Court despite the fact that there were four vacancies. I am genuinely happy for my brother, Mr Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan, but why my candidacy was not considered notwithstanding my seniority, eligibility, and availability of vacancies in the Supreme Court,” he said, adding that he was the second senior most chief justice in the country’s high courts.

During a full-court reference for him in the high court, Justice Khan said he had paid a heavy price for his recent judgements.

“In the recent political turmoil, the PHC received thousands of petitions from outside the limits of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which were decided ’virtuously within the four corners of law. Though I have paid a heavy price for my recent verdicts, I am overwhelmed to proclaim that as the chief justice of KP, I ensured the rule of law at the cost of my career progression,” he said.

Born in Swabi on April 15, 1962, Justice Khan was elevated to the high court as an additional judge on Aug 11, 2016, and subsequently confirmed as a judge of the high court on June 1, 2018.

He had joined the judicial service and was appointed as an additional district and sessions judge on Nov 1, 1993.

One of the most important jobs of his judicial career is conducting the judicial inquiry into the 2014 carnage at the Peshawar Army Public School and College, wherein 147 people, including 132 students, were killed.

He was appointed presiding officer of the commission by the PHC Chief Justice on the orders of the Supreme Court.

The said commission had conducted an extensive probe and examined 102 aggrieved people, mostly the parents of the martyred students, besides recording the statements of government functionaries of all ranks from the Armed Forces, bureaucracy, and police.

The commission had submitted its detailed report of 525 pages to the Chief Justice, Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2024

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