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LAHORE, March 16: The Pakistan Bar Council and the Lahore High Court Bar Association have demanded amendments to rules of the Judicial Commission on judges’ appointment to make its proceedings ‘transparent’.

Addressing a joint press conference on Saturday, PBC Vice-Chairman Syed Kalb-i-Hasan and LHCBA President Abid Saqi said the deliberations over the names proposed by the Judicial Commission (JC) should be open and transparent and minutes of such meetings should be maintained and shared with the media.

They said the commission should only have the power to assess the professional competence of the nominees while all other matters including scrutiny of intelligence reports, history of payment of tax and other liabilities shall be debated and assessed by the Parliamentary Commission. They called for strict observance of seniority principle for the appointment of chief justice of a high court as laid down in Al-Jihad Trust and Asad Ali cases by the Supreme Court. They further said that any member of the JC should have the right to nominate name of a person to be appointed as judge.

They said the commission’s meetings should not be held in the absence of any of its member, especially representatives of the bar, attorney general and law minister.

The bar leaders also denounced extensions in service being given to additional judges of high courts and demanded that an additional judge should either be confirmed or rejected for cogent reasons after expiry of one-year probationary period. They said the practice of giving service extensions should be stopped as it was a violation of constitutional principles and also marred judges’ independence.

They said the vacancies in superior courts should be filled within 30 days of the date a vacancy fell vacant. The bar leaders suggested the JC to reconsider the judges removed for being appointed by former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.

They further said the judges’ appointments should only be made during the tenure of an elected government and not by interim one. They announced that an all-Pakistan lawyer’s representative convention would be convened to devise a protest strategy if their demands were not fulfilled.

Replying to a media query about nomination of retired judges for caretaker setup, Mr Saqi said the judiciary should stay away from politics and only political people should be involved in the process. He said the people should have trust in politicians and let them do their job.