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Judge says ‘he faced hostile situation’

October 26, 2012

Policemen stand guard in front of the Islamabad High Court building. — Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD, Oct 26: An additional judge of Islamabad High Court (IHC) told the parliamentary committee on appointment of judges on Friday that he could reveal the ‘insider story’ about his ‘un-ceremonial exit’ from the court.

Justice Mohammad Azim Khan Afridi, whose term is going to expire on Nov 20 because the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry declined to confirm his service on Oct 22, extended the offer to the committee through a letter.

At the same meeting, the JCP recommended that service of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui be confirmed and gave six months’ extension to Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi.

Under Article 175-A of the Constitution, the JCP recommends names of judges to be appointed and the parliamentary committee confirms the recommendations in an in-camera meeting within two weeks.

Justice Afridi was sessions judge in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa judicial service before his elevation to the IHC. In the letter addressed to the Senate secretariat, he said he faced a hostile situation from the beginning and alleged that the-then Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court, who was later elevated to the Supreme Court, was not happy with his appointment as an IHC judge.

The letter said: “My elevation as IHC judge was recommended by the JCP after the required probe, scrutiny and analysis and despite resistance by Justice Ijaz Afzal, then Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court (PHC).

“The JCP had decided (on) my un-ceremonial exit and for that reason I am obliged to convey during in-camera proceedings of the parliamentary committee.

“I suggest the parliamentary committee would convene the meeting on the premises of IHC which is subject to approval of IHC registrar.”

The judge requested the parliamentary committee to summon the record relating to the judgments of Supreme Court Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan, Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui as well in its forthcoming meeting.

He suggested that the record of the appointments which had been attributed to him and was one of the reasons for his un-ceremonial exit be summoned, along with the record of appointments attributed to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi.

Justice Afridi also suggested that the attorney general be asked for legal assistance on the matter.

When contacted, IHC Registrar Niaz Mohammad Khan said. “I can only comment after thoroughly examining the entire situation”.

Constitutional expert S.M. Zafar, a member of the parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms which introduced the procedure for judges’ appointment, told Dawn that the committee had never thought that any appointment in the superior judiciary made through the JCP would ever be challenged.

He said the procedure adopted was the best one for ensuring transparency in the appointment of judges but even then if any judge would feel himself aggrieved, he can challenge the proceedings in the high court or in the Supreme Court.