August 10th, 2021

By Ahmed Saeed 


The Judicial Commission of Pakistan has approved the appointment of the Chief Justice of Sindh High Court, Ahmed Ali Sheikh as an ad-hoc judge of the Supreme Court by a majority of 4 to 5. Senior lawyers and experts on the constitution have pointed out that the move could give birth to a new judicial and constitutional crisis in the country. 

It must be noted that a while ago the appointed judge, Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh, had written a letter to members of the Judicial Commission not agreeing to his appointment as an ad hoc judge in the Supreme Court (SC). Instead, he was more interested in being appointed a permanent member of the SC panel. 

Advocate Latif Afridi, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) told that regardless of what Justice Shaikh asserted in the letter he had been told by sources aware of the matter that Justice Shaikh was interested in becoming an ad-hoc judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Advocate Afridi has said that if Justice Shaikh has an issue with being appointed on an ad-hoc basis he should resign from the position. 

Meanwhile, Hamid Khan, Former President of the SCBA pointed out that decisions like this one being made by the current Chief Justice (CJ) of the SC are weakening the judicial system of the country 

Article 182 of the constitution of Pakistan allows any Judge, who has not been retired for more than a period of three years, to be appointed as an Ad Hoc judge to the SC while if a sitting judge of the High Court has to be elevated to this position then the decision requires the direct ascent of the CJ of the SC.   

Interestingly, Justice Shaikh is stuck between a rock and a hard place because article 206 of the constitution of Pakistan points out that if a sitting Judge of any of the High Courts refuses elevation to the Supreme Court then they must retire. 

Yasin Azad, a senior lawyer and former member of the Judicial Commission told that Article 206 relates to the appointment of a permanent judge and that Justice Sheikh has the right to appeal against the decision of his appointment on an Ad Hoc basis if need be. Yasin points out that in the next few days a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court Justice Mushir Alam is slotted for retirement, it would have been better if Justice Shaikh had been appointed as his replacement on a permanent basis. 

According to Abid Saqi, former Vice-President of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the decision will further divide the SC bench. 

Legal experts are of the opinion that today’s decision will further bring to light the already simmering frictions amongst members of the higher judiciary which in turn will harm the cause of constitutionalism and democracy in the country. The decision could also lead to a legal battle between the bar and bench in the near future.



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