Administering oath of office, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed stresses that her appointment is on the basis of merit
Justice Ayesha Malik on Monday made history after being sworn in as the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The oath-taking ceremony was performed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, who also nominated her for the position, and attended by several Supreme Court judges, including Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who will assume charge as the next chief justice on Feb. 2.
“Justice Ayesha has been appointed on the basis of her merit,” the CJP said at the oath-taking ceremony, stressing that no one else could take credit for her elevation to the Supreme Court.
Justice Malik’s elevation to the Supreme Court was approved by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan earlier this month, following which the Parliamentary Committee on the Appointment of Superior Judiciary also approved her nomination.
Earlier, her nomination had provoked controversy within the ranks of the judiciary because she was ranked fourth at the Lahore High Court in terms of seniority and bar councils had protested against elevating judges out-of-turn and demanded the senior judiciary establish firm guidelines for all appointments to the superior courts. The Judicial Commission of Pakistan has said that it would work on establishing the methodology of appointment superior court judges to avoid any criticism against future nominations.
Justice Malik’s appointment to the Supreme Court raises the total strength of the Supreme Court to 17 judges. She would now remain a judge of the apex court until her superannuation in March 2031, with the potential to become the Chief Justice of Pakistan in January 2030.
Appointed to the Lahore High Court in March 2012, Justice Malik taught Banking Law at the University of Punjab prior to becoming a judge, and also served as lecturer of Mercantile Law at the College of Accounting and Management Sciences in Karachi. She holds a Master in Laws from Harvard Law School.
Her appointment drew praise from both the government and opposition, with Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari describing it as an “historic” moment. “Historic moment—first woman judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan,” she wrote on Twitter.
Similarly, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Vice President Maryam Nawaz also said that history had been made in Pakistan’s judiciary with the appointment of the apex court’s first woman judge.