ISLAMABAD: In a response to the presidential reference on the issue of judges' appointment, the Supreme Court on Thursday declared valid the appointment of Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi as chief justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), adding that the president was bound to approve the recommendations put forward by the judicial commission, DawnNews reported.
A five judge bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Tariq Parvez, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, had been hearing the reference sent by the president to the Supreme Court by invoking its advisory jurisdiction.
The court's response constituting 102 pages responds to the 13 questions raised in the reference sent by President Asif Ali Zardari.
The court's reply says that the president and the prime minister have no role with respect to the appointment of judges.
It added that after the passage of the 18th and 19th amendments, the president only enjoyed nominal authority on the matter, adding that the president was bound to accept and approve the judicial commission’s recommendations.
The court had earlier reserved its ruling on the presidential reference concerning the appointment of judges.
The reply added that a decision on the seniority of judges could not be made through a presidential reference.
It said that in the cases of Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan and Justice Kasi seniority was not relevant, adding that the judicial commission could make any judge the chief justice of a high court.
It however said that the judicial commission could also state its reasons for not making a senior judge a high court chief justice.
Through the reference, the president had sought opinion of the Supreme Court on a host of questions including the seniority dispute between Justice Riaz and Justice Kasi, both judges of the IHC.
Justice Kasi and not Justice Riaz sat in the meetings of the JC which had recommended elevation of IHC Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman as a judge of the Supreme Court and Justice Kasi to fill his position ignoring Justice Riaz.
The reference had also mentioned a conclusion of Justice Rehman who had held Justice Riaz as the senior judge, instead of Justice Kasi, and asked could Justice Kasi be treated as most senior judge of the IHC. It asked whether Justice Riaz had a legitimate expectancy to be appointed as the IHC chief justice in the light of the judgment in the 1996 Al-Jihad Trust case and whether the JC acted in accordance with the Constitution and conventions while recommending a junior judge as the chief justice.