Home Latest News Controversy over Meeting of Judicial Commission of Pakistan

Controversy over Meeting of Judicial Commission of Pakistan

Supreme Court claims meeting deferred, but JCP member Justice Qazi Faez Isa says proposed nominees were all rejected and demands public release of minutes

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Supreme Court of Pakistan

Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday wrote a letter to all members of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP), including Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, seeking the public release of minutes of a meeting of the JCP to clarify decisions taken on the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court.

In his letter, Justice Isa—who is currently on vacation—wrote that the JCP had met to consider five nominees for the Supreme Court proposed by the CJP. “After a detailed discussion, the majority of the honorable members of the JCP, that is the honorable Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, honorable Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, honorable Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, representative of the Pakistan Bar Council the honorable Akhtar Hussain and myself decided to reject the nominations of the three junior judges of the Sindh High Court and one junior judge of the Lahore High Court,” he said, adding that the fifth nominee, the chief justice of the Peshawar High Court, had also been questioned as he was not the senior-most judge.

The JCP, wrote Justice Isa, had decided that the PHC chief justice’s name could be considered when “placed alongside those of his peers, that is, with the chief justices of the other High Courts and senior-most judges, with the provision of comparable data.”

Reiterating that the Constitution did not permit appointments to “anticipated” vacancies, he said that the proposed nominees had all been rejected by 5 of the nine members present—reportedly the CJP, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah all voted in their favor. Justice (retd.) Sarmad Jalal Usmani, meanwhile, voted in favor of the judge of the LHC but against the nominees of the Sindh High Court.

Justice Isa maintained that the CJP had “not dictated the decisions that were taken” and had “abruptly” left the meeting, with Justice Ijazul Ahsan following him. He said that after the departure of the CJP, who also serves as chairman of the JCP, the temporarily appointed acting secretary was tasked with drawing up the minutes of the decisions taken, noting this was the first time he had been called to do so.

“The eyes of the nation are transfixed on the JCP and they have a constitutional right to know what was decided. Therefore, the acting secretary should immediately release this decision to the media, which will also stem unnecessary speculation and misreporting as the meeting was held behind closed doors. It is expected that the detailed minutes will accurately reflect all that transpired,” wrote Justice Isa.

An official press release issued by the Supreme Court read that the JCP chairman—CJP Bandial—had proposed to “defer the meeting in order to enable the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan to place additional information and data about those already proposed and if he considers appropriate, add more names to the list of proposees for consideration by the JCP.”

It claimed that the decision was taken after deliberation and had been supported by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice (retd.) Sarmad Jalal Usmani and the Attorney General for Pakistan. “It was accordingly decided to defer the meeting. The date of the next meeting will be communicated to the Members of the Judicial Commission by the Chairman, JCP,” it said, adding the meeting was attended by seven Members of the JCP in person and Justice Qazi Faez Isa and the attorney general via Zoom.

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