24th January 2022
On January 24, Justice Ayesha A. Malik took oath as a justice of the apex court in a ceremony in the Supreme Court’s ceremonial hall, with the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed administering the oath. After the ceremony, she heard a total of six cases in Court Room 1, seated on the left of the CJP.
Justice Malik, 55, will serve as a Supreme Court judge till June 2, 2031, and is scheduled to serve as the CJP after the retirement of Justice Yahya Afridi in January 2030.
Justice Malik’s nomination was the subject of much controversy amidst the bar councils and associations of Pakistan, who contended that the appointment process should be based on the principle of seniority. Justice Malik was the fourth most senior judge of the Lahore High Court prior to her appointment.
Her initial nomination by CJP Ahmed had been turned down by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) in its September 9, 2021 meeting. The vote for her confirmation was tied with four members of the JCP voting in her favor while the remaining four voted against. Justice Qazi Faez Esa did not attend the meeting as he was not in the country then.
After the completion of Justice (R) Dost Muhammad’s tenure as a member of the Commission on October 10, 2021, Justice (R) Sarmad Jalal Osmany was sworn in as its newest member. On December 25, 2021, CJP Ahmed once again proposed Justice Malik’s name for elevation to the apex court.
On January 6, 2022, five out of nine members of the Commission approved Justice Malik’s nomination while three opposed it. The CJP, senior puisne judge Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice (R) Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Law Minister Faroogh Naseem and Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan voted in favour of Justice Malik, while Justice Qazi Faez Esa, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Tariq Masood and PBC member Advocate Akhthar Hussain opposed the nomination.
Who is Justice Ayesha A. Malik?
Justice Malik completed her basic education in Paris and New York, and did her Senior Cambridge from the Karachi Grammar School, Karachi. She then did her A Level from the Francis Holland School for Girls in London. She completed her B.Com from the Government College of Commerce and Economics, Karachi, and studied law at Pakistan College of Law, Lahore. She went on to do her LL.M from Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. where she was named a London H. Gammon Fellow 1998-1999 for outstanding merit.
Between 1997 and 2001, she worked with eminent lawyer and former Supreme Court judge Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim. She has been counsel, pro bono, for NGOs involved in poverty alleviation programs, micro finance programs and skills training programs.
She was appointed as an additional judge of the LHC on March 27, 2012, and was confirmed as a permanent judge in 2013. As a judge, she had adjudicated many important cases pertaining to civil liberties, women’s rights and constitutional matters.
In 2016, Justice Malik stopped the transfer of two sugar mills owned by the families of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif.
In 2017, Justice Malik ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure that all mandatory information and declaration such as Educational qualifications, current occupation, and Dual nationality, NTN number etc. of the candidates are collected. However, the Supreme Court suspended that order.
Justice Malik through her judgments tried to protect the weaker segments of the society, especially women, from the patriarchal legislation and practices.
In January 2021, she abolished the two finger test (TFT) for examination of sexual assault survivors by declaring it illegal through a historic judgment. She also declared that the TFT violates the dignity of the female victim and was contradictory to Articles 9 and Article 14 of the Constitution.