Sindh High Court (SHC) judge Justice Munib Akhtar on Tuesday took oath after his elevation to the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar administered the oath to Justice Akhtar at a ceremony organised for the purpose.
The oath-taking ceremony was held at the ceremonial hall inside the Supreme Court building. Besides SC judges, advocate generals, office-bearers of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), and senior lawyers also attended the event.
President Mamnoon Hussain had approved the appointment of Justice Akhtar as an SC judge on Saturday, while the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) had recommended his elevation to the top court on April 15, Dawn reported.
The Parliamentary Committee on the Judges Appointment had endorsed the recommendation, ignoring criticism by some sections of lawyers’ community who were of the view that being number four on the seniority list, Justice Akhtar did not deserve to be elevated to the SC. This was the reason that the Sindh Bar Council’s (SBC) representatives held a press conference last week in which they said that elevation of Justice Akhtar to the SC after bypassing three senior judges was in violation of the judgement announced in the Al-Jihad Trust case that set a precedent for appointment of judges.
The elevation was reportedly questioned by PBC representative Yousaf Laghari who noted that three senior SHC judges, as well as the chief justices of other high courts, have not been considered.
However, Laghari was told that it was not the first time that a junior judge had been considered for the apex court. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and CJP Nisar were also elevated to the apex court when retired Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif was Lahore High Court’s chief justice.
The SC in its judgement in the Faqir Khokhar case has already maintained that elevation of a judge to the SC is a fresh appointment and a junior judge can also be considered for this.
It may be mentioned that the date of appointment of Justice Akhtar and the other three senior judges is the same i.e. September 25, 2009. The other three judges attained seniority since they were older in age.
According to the official website of the SHC, the date of birth of Justice Akhtar is Dec 14, 1963. The date of birth of SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Sheikh is Oct 3, 1961, senior puisne judge Irfan Saadat Khan Feb 7, 1963 and Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi June 6, 1963.
Justice Akhtar is a son-in-law of former law minister Khalid Anwar and is considered a fine jurist in the legal fraternity.