ISLAMABAD, Dec 31: Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui took oath as the new Chief Justice of Pakistan on Wednesday. Soon after President Pervez Musharraf's assent to the Constitutional (Seventeenth Amendment) Bill early on Wednesday , 10 judges of the superior courts stood retired, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Shaikh Riaz Ahmad, who was replaced by Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui.

The president named Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui as the chief justice for being the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court and administered oath to him at the presidential camp office in Rawalpindi.

The oath-taking ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali besides federal ministers, services chiefs, members of Parliament, judges of the Supreme Court and senior lawyers.

Justice Siddiqui, who belongs to Sindh, was appointed judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC) in March 1992 and became chief justice of the SHC in 1999. He was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Feb 4, 2000.

Justice Siddiqui was born on June 30, 1940. He did his BA, LLB from the University of Hyderabad and LLM from the University of Karachi.

He practised at Hyderabad from 1961 to 1967. During his career, Justice Siddiqui served as civil judge, senior civil judge, additional district and sessions judge, district and sessions judge at Sukkur and Dadu, registrar of the SHC twice, customs judge thrice, special judge anti-corruption, special judge Banking Court, chairman Commercial Court and Drug Court, member Appellate Insurance Tribunal, presiding officer Labour Court, member Supreme Appellate Court/Tribunal, chairman Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, and member Board of Governors of Indus Valley School of Karachi.

Presently, he was also serving as chairman Central Zakat Council of Pakistan and member Selection Board of the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Meanwhile, the judges who have retired after attaining the age of superannuation in pursuance of Articles 179 and 195 are:

Justice Shaikh Riaz Ahmad, Chief Justice of Pakistan; Justice Munir A. Sheikh, SC judge; Justice Qazi Mohammad Farooq, SC judge; Justice Karamat Nazir Bhandari, Lahore High Court judge (ad hoc judge, SC); Justice Raja Mohammad Sabir, LHC judge; Justice M. Roshan Essani, SHC judge; Justice S. Ahmad Sarwana, SHC judge; Justice Zahid Kurban Alavi, SHC judge; Justice Mohammad Ashraf Leghari, SHC judge and Justice Abdur Rauf Khan Lughmani, Peshawar High Court judge.

The proposal of three years' extension in the retirement of judges of the superior courts was withdrawn by the government from the constitutional amendment package which was agreed and signed between the MMA and the government on Wednesday last due to intense pressure of the MMA.

The bill which was passed by Parliament and assented by the president said the Supreme Court judge would hold office until he attained the age of 65 years instead of 68 years while the judge of the high court would retire after he attained the age of 62 years instead of 65.

S.M. ZAFAR: Eminent lawyer S.M. Zafar, who was part of the negotiating team and involved in the drafting of the bill, during his speech in the Senate had said that President Musharraf had also consulted the judiciary about the issue of retirement, which offered to leave the matter as it was in the Constitution instead of giving any extension to the judges.

The decision of not giving extension to the judges was appreciated by the legal fraternity by describing the decision as a step towards independence of the judiciary.

Earlier, the Joint Action Committee, comprising all the leaders of lawyers' bodies, had demanded of the superior court judges to leave their respective institutions after attaining the constitutional age of retirement.

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