Pakistan National Assembly passes 19th amendment bill
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Wednesday unanimously adopted the 19th Amendment Bill. Under the amendment, the Prime Minister will now have a say on the issue of judges' appointment, while the number of judges in the Judicial Commission has also been increased from two to four.
The bill is aimed to give effect to changes made in light of recommendations by the Supreme Court in an October 21 order after hearing challenges to the parliament's role in appointing judges of the apex court and high courts as set in the landmark 18th Amendment passed in April.
Major amendments proposed in the bill include one increasing the strength of a judicial commission headed by the Supreme Court chief justice, which must propose the names for appointments, from existing seven to nine - including four, rather than two, senior-most judges of the apex court besides a former judge of the court to be named by the chief justice - and fixing a minimum of 15 years' experience for a lawyer to be nominated on the body by the Pakistan Bar Council, besides the federal law minister and the attorney general.
Committee that must finally approve the appointment of judges would hold its meetings in camera, send its approval or rejection of a nomination to the prime minister instead of the president, who must finally notify an appointment - and that it would be exempted from a bar on discussing the conduct of judges in parliament.
Earlier, the federal cabinet approved the draft of the 19th Amendment Bill, after which it was presented in the National Assembly for clause-by-clause voting. Meanwhile, Pakistani police on Wednesday arrested two senior police officers in court for alleged dereliction of duty over the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, a prosecutor said. Bhutto was assassinated almost exactly three years ago in a gun and suicide attack after addressing an election campaign rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, on December 27, 2007.
In April, a UN panel accused the government of failing to provide Bhutto with adequate protection and said investigations were hampered by intelligence agencies and other officials who impeded "an unfettered search for the truth". -PB News
ISTANBUL: Governor Istanbul Huseyin Anvi Mutlu receiving President Asif Ali Zardari on his arrival at Attaturk International Airport. -App