ISLAMABAD, Feb 8: A dispute over seniority has arisen among the Supreme Court judges, as Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has questioned the seniority of Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui in writing, Dawn learnt from SC sources.

Justice Chaudhry, who will become chief justice of Pakistan from July 2005, for about eight years, has made a representation to the CJ asking him to correct the seniority list.

If his point of view is accepted, Justice Chaudhry will assume the charge two years earlier, from July 2003, and his tenure would end on Dec 12, 2013.

The compulsory retirement of Justice Rashid Aziz Khan has given rise to the seniority dispute. Had Justice Aziz remained on the bench, Justice Nazim Siddiqui would have had no chance to become the chief justice.

If the seniority list is not changed, Justice Siddiqui would remain the chief justice for two years.

Justice Siddiqui was part of the seven-member bench which declared Justice Rashid Aziz Khan and Justice Malik Qayyum biased against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The SC remarks on the appeal of former premier and her husband, Asif Zardari, finished the judicial career of Justice Aziz, paving the way for Justice Siddiqui to become “legitimate expectant” for the post of chief justice.

Sources said that Justice Chaudhry had contended that he was senior to Justice Nazim Siddiqui and the seniority list should be corrected.

He contended that he and Justice Siddiqui were elevated as SC judges on Feb 4, 2000. Their date of appointment as chief justices of Sindh and Balochistan high courts respectively was the same, April 22, 1999.

Justice Chaudhry is of the view that under Section 8(4) of the Civil Servants Act, 1974, seniority has to be reckoned from the date of elevation as judges in the high courts.

Justice Chaudhry contends that Justice Siddiqui is junior to him, as he was elevated as Balochistan High Court judge on Nov 6, 1990, whereas Justice Siddiqui was elevated as Sindh High Court judge on March 22, 1992, for of two years. After two years as ad hoc judge, Justice Siddiqui was not confirmed.

However, after the lapse of two months, Justice Siddiqui was reappointed as SHC judge on June 5, 1994. Justice Chaudhry contends that Justice Siddiqui was elevated as judge of SHC on June 5, 1994, and was junior to him.

Justice Chaudhry, sources said, cited case law on the subject, namely Mohammad Yousaf versus Abdul Rashid (1996 SCMR 1297), Nuzhat Mahmood, chemist, Hydrocarbon Development Institute, Islamabad, versus the director-general, Hydrocarbon Development Institute, (1997 TD Services 361) to support his contention that seniority in such situations would be determined on the basis of original date of induction in service.

The seniority of the SC judges is as follows: CJP Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, Justice Munir A. Sheikh, Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Qazi Mohammad Farooq, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, Justice Mian Mohammad Ajmal, Justice Syed Deedar Hussain Shah, Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Hamid Ali Mirza, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Tanveer Ahmad Khan, Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Justice Mohammad Nawaz Abbasi and Justice Faqir Mohammad Khokhar.

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