LAHORE, March 29: Supreme Court Bar Association President Asma Jahangir has expressed reservations over two recent judgements by the apex court through which the appointment of Justice Deedar Shah (retired) as NAB chairman was declared unconstitutional and the parliamentary committee decision of not giving extension to six additional judges of high courts was set aside. At a press briefing here on Tuesday, she said these judgements reflected "judicial dictatorship and a lack of tolerance against other democratic institutions".
Ms Jahangir said she agreed with the Deedar Shah verdict to the extent where it ruled for appointment of NAB chairman through consensus-oriented meaningful consultation between the leader of the house and the leader of the opposition. However she criticised the verdict for closing the door for Mr Shah's reappointment even through due process. In her opinion Justice Deedar Shah could be reappointed if all rules and procedure of the appointment were fulfilled.The SCBA president was not satisfied with the decision in as much as it provided for the chief justice of Pakistan to decide the matter if the leaders of the house and opposition were at dispute over the appointment. She said this means the complete authority to make appointment would go to the CJP discarding parliament. She said the government should go for a review petition in this case.
“Being the SCBA president, I will point out what is constitutionally right and it’s up to the people to decide,” Ms Jahangir said.
She claimed that many lawyers also had reservations on the SC judgements but they avoided open criticism for one reason or another.
She urged the parliament to finalise and approve the amended accountability law without further delay.
About the verdict through which the SC had set aside the Parliamentary Committee’s decision against extension to the services of six additional judges of Lahore and Sindh high courts, Ms Jahangir said the court indirectly decided the pending matter on 18th and 19th constitutional amendments and one of the four members on the bench highlighted this fact in his dissenting note.
She said the decision completely ended the role of the parliamentary committee by denying it the right to disagree with the recommendations of the Judicial Commission. She questioned the existence of a parliamentary committee that did not have the power to take independent decisions.
Ms Jahangir pointed out the reservations expressed by the chief justices of the high courts about the moral authority of the six additional judges in question.Ms Jahangir said that at the commission level appointment of judges had to be initiated through the CJP which in her view was contrary to the concept of independence of judiciary wherein independent opinion of every judge commanded weight and regard.She had an issue with the composition of the judicial commission, citing what she called a lack of representation from Sindh. Also on her list of concern was the confirmation of judge of the Peshawar High Court only a few months before he was to retire.The bar president concluded the briefing by calling for greater accountability in the judicial system.