An­other con­tro­versy

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

Though one con­tro­versy be­tween the pres­i­dency and the apex court has come to an end with the dis­patch of the let­ter to Swiss au­thor­i­ties but an­other cri­sis is brew­ing over the ap­point­ment and se­nior­ity of judges in the Is­lam­abad High Court. Though the is­sue is very com­pli­cate and in­volves mul­ti­ple judges and their fu­tures which started with the de­ci­sion to el­e­vate the chief jus­tice of the Is­lam­abad High Court, Jus­tice Iqbal Hamee­dur Rehman, to the Supreme Court. The row started when the Ju­di­cial Com­mis­sion nom­i­nated and the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee en­dorsed, Jus­tice An­war Kasi to the chief jus­tice’s slot as the se­nior-most judge of the Is­lam­abad High Court. When the sum­mary ap­peared be­fore Pres­i­dent Zar­dari for rou­tine sign­ing, an anom­aly high­lighted that an­other judge of the IHC, Jus­tice Riaz Ahmed Khan, had been con­sid­ered se­nior to Jus­tice Kasi and there­fore he was in line to suc­ceed Jus­tice Rehman as the IHC chief jus­tice. In the midst of this tus­sle, two other judges of the IHC have gone home be­cause their con­tin­u­a­tion as judges be­yond Nov 20 was de­pend­ing on ap­proval by the Ju­di­cial Com­mis­sion, which did as­sent but whose com­po­si­tion was taken as in­com­plete by the pres­i­dency ow­ing to the dis­pute over who was the IHC’s se­nior-most judge.

The is­sue seems to be com­pli­cated. On the face of it, the pres­i­dency ap­pears to be in­sert­ing it­self into a de­ci­sion-mak­ing process that is two-tiered - ju­di­cial and par­lia­men­tary and in which the role of the pres­i­dent was not really en­vis­aged to ques­tion the de­ci­sions taken by the ju­di­cial com­mis­sion and en­dorsed by the par­lia­men­tary body but the mat­ter be­comes more com­pli­cated be­cause it ap­pears the pres­i­dency may have a gen­uine case that Jus­tice Riaz Ahmed Khan and not Jus­tice An­war Kasi is tech­ni­cally the se­nior-most judge of the IHC be­hind the chief jus­tice who has been el­e­vated to the SC. The main mys­tery here is why the Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee, which is meant to de­bate and probe the Ju­di­cial Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions, has ap­peared to be rub­ber­stamped a change at the top of the IHC that may be out of line with ac­cepted con­ven­tion. Con­sid­er­ing the spec­u­la­tion that has been gen­er­ated, it is im­por­tant to know the rea­sons be­hind the out-of-step nom­i­na­tion of the next IHC chief jus­tice.

There is need of hour that pres­i­den­tial ref­er­ence to the SC should be moved quickly to end this un­nec­es­sary im­passe, which was be­ing in­ter­preted in var­i­ous ways.

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