ISLAMABAD: The six high court judges who were denied extension by the Parliamentary Committee lost out because of their professional as well as personal shortcomings, as viewed by their respective chief justices, Dawn has learnt.
A one-year extension was denied to four additional judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC) as well as two Sindh High Court (SHC) judges by the eight-member bipartisan committee. The committee based its decision on the assessments provided by the respective chief justices, which in turn were based on the judges’ conduct and character.
The assessments, which are available with Dawn, do not mince words. Take the case of the additional judges of the LHC, which the PC took up on Feb 2.
Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh, for instance, is seen to be a slow worker, indecisive, hesitant, shy to take quick decision and also opinionated. On his performance the PC commented that the judge was not at all quick in the disposal of (judicial) work. Similarly, the reasons given for refusing an extension to Justice Mohammad Farrukh Irfan Khan included the fact that he was a “novice” in legal issues. He too is seen to be slow.
The assessment for Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi appears to be harsher: he is described as not inaccessible and as one who allegedly in-dulges in loose talk. He is also called rigid and prejudiced.
Justice Mohammad Yawar Ali was rejected because he too was deemed a slow worker who did not give due relief. What the committee also objected to was that the judge was status conscience and moved in an “ultra modern circle” while his “behaviour with the public was indifferent”.
The documents revealed that PML-N leaders Senator Ishaq Dar and MNA Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan held a dissenting view about the conduct of the judge and voted against the decision. In their opinion, similar assessments had been given about other judges who had been approved by the PC in the same sitting.
In a meeting held on Feb 22 for the SHC judges, the PC had refused to grant a year-long extension to Justice Mohammad Tasnim and Justice Salman Hamid on the basis of the evaluation report by SHC Chief Justice Mushir Alam.
On Justice Mohammad Tasnim, it was said that the conduct, attitude and behaviour of the judge could not be said to be of “quality” — a virtue that should be ingrained in a judge. Six of the eight members were of the view that these remarks were crucial for deciding the fate of the nominee.
Similarly in the case of Justice Salman Hamid, it was said that his conduct and attitude was unbecoming of a judge.
In a related development, these reasons had been placed before the four-judge bench hearing identical petitions moved by Advocate Munir Hussain Bhatti as well as the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA). The two petitioners had criticised the decision of the PC to reject the recommendation of the judicial commission (JC) to extend the service tenure of these judges.
On Monday, the bench comprising Justice Mohammad Akhtar Shahid Siddiqui, Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez repeated its earlier order (that it had passed in the matter of LHC judges) to suspend the recommendations of the PC in the case of the two SHC judges.
The government was also restrained from issuing any notification to end the services of the judges. The request to suspend the PC’s recommendation was made by Advocate Abid S. Zuberi, who represented the SHCBA during the proceedings.
Deputy Attorney General K.K. Agha opposed the petitions by objecting to their maintainability and requested the court to make public the reasons behind the PC’s decisions. His arguments won over Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja who said: “We need to trust our people because we as judges are paid by the public.”Advocate Makhdoom Ali Khan representing the petitioner on the LHC judges also asked to see the reasons.
Citing previous Supreme Court cases he insisted that additional judges were in fact judges and not judges on probation.
Therefore such judges can only be removed by sending a reference against them to the Supreme Judicial Council.
The PC’s actions denied them their legitimate expectancy to become a confirmed judge as well as removing them from their offices, he argued. The case will be taken up again on Tuesday.