July 28, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
ISLAMABAD: The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) concluded its meeting on July 28 without approving any names for elevation to the Supreme Court after a majority of members rejected nominations of all five judges, sources said.
The JCP rejected nominations five judges for elevation to the apex court by a majority of five against four in the meeting, the sources said. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial had called the JCP meeting at Supreme Court to consider elevation of five judges to the Supreme Court including Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan, Lahore High Court’s Justice Shahid Waheed, and Sindh High Court’s Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shafi Siddique and Justice Nimatullah. Presently, there is a vacancy of four judges in the Supreme Court, while Justice Sajjad Ali Shah will also retire next month.
The commission held a voting on the nominations after differences surfaced among the members. In the meeting, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali and Akhtar Hussain, member of the Pakistan Bar Council, voted against elevation of the nominated five judges. Justice Qazi Faez Isa and AG Aushtar Ausaf attended the meeting on video link.
On the other hand, CJP Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and former Supreme Court judge Sarmad Jalal Osmany voted for elevation of the nominated judges. Former Supreme Court judge Sarmad Jalal Osmany also separately voted against two judges nominated from Sindh, the sources said.
In a letter to the CJP, Qazi Faez Isa questioned the rationale of holding the JCP meeting in the absence of members judges who were on summer vacation. On July 27, a joint resolution of bar councils and bar associations expressed concern at elevation of junior judges in violation of the seniority principle. The resolution had also called for equal representation of stake holders in the process of appointment and removal of superior court judges in the country.
Out of the nominated judges, LHC Justice Shahid Waheed is fourth in seniority while SHC Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi is fourth in seniority and Justice Shafi Siddique is sixth in seniority while Justice Nimatullah is seventh in seniority.
The JCP consists of nine members including Chief Justice of Pakistan being its chairman with four senior sitting judges of the Supreme Court, a retired judge, law minister, Attorney General and a representative from Pakistan Bar Council. The commission was constituted under the 18th Constitutional Amendment for the purpose of appointment of judges for the superior judiciary. After the Commission recommends names for the appointment in the superior judiciary, the recommendation is then forwarded to the Parliamentary Committee which has the authority to approve or disapprove any name.
During the last meeting of the JCP, Pakistan Bar Council and other bar councils and associations protested against out-of-turn appointments of judges in the higher judiciary.
Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) expressed concern over Judicial Commission of Pakistan meeting scheduled to be held on July 28 for elevation of judges to Supreme Court bypassing the seniority of judges at the SHC.