Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) representative in the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) Akhtar Hussain has expressed reservations over interviewing potential candidates for the appointment of superior court judges.
“As far as calling the potential candidates for interview[s] is concerned, I have some reservations, [–] one that the procedure adopted by the parliamentary committee has not proved [to be] much beneficial [and] secondly there may be a negative aspect of dropping some good candidates for one reason [or the other],” read a letter written by the PBC representative following an earlier one penned by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa wherein he had asked all members of the commission to suggest whether the candidates for the slots of superior court judges should be interviewed or not.
However, Sindh Bar Council (SBC) representative in the JCP Haider Imam Rizvi supported the idea of interviewing potential candidates.
“I am of the view that potential candidates should be interviewed. The paper record alone is not always a reliable indicator of a person’s general command over law and his/her analytical approach and, in particular, says nothing about his [or her] temperament and composure (which are also essential criteria for judges),” he wrote in his letter to the CJP.
“A live interview, in addition to the present system of scrutiny of judgments and/or secondhand feedback about [the] reputation (which may be inaccurate for various reasons) shall help all members of the JCP (especially those who are not personally familiar with the candidate) in reaching a more informed decision,” he added.
“Perhaps the JCP members may also like to agree some sort of modality of how interviews shall be conducted so that all [of them] get a fair and balanced chance of questioning and candidates also have some idea of the methodology and what ground is expected to be covered,” the SBC representative’s letter continued.
About the suggestions pertaining to the appointment of judges in superior courts, PBC representative Akhtar told the CJP that lawyers had continuously been asking for amending the JCP rules.
“There should be a clear [criterion] laid down in the rules for bypassing the seniority for [district and sessions judges’] appointments to high courts … apart from their integrity, competence and capacity. [The] same is to be [applied for the] appointments [of high court judges] to [the] Supreme Court,” he wrote.
“For [lawyers’] appointments, [the] basic principle is the same as to their integrity, competence and capacity but here I will say that the appointment of [an] additional judge against a confirmed vacancy should be stopped and a permanent appointment should be made … for that a thorough exercise should be made for assessment as to their integrity, competence and capacity to work including the analysis of their pleadings in the field of their practice,” Akhtar added.
The PBC representative stated that as far as the confirmation of additional judges was concerned, it could only be carried out on the basis of their disposal and a thorough analysis of their decided cases apart from their integrity.
Akhtar pointed out that CJP Isa himself was well aware about the previous discussions in meetings that rules were also required to be amended about the discretionary and absolute powers of the top judge with initiating nominations as it was being carried out in the past even without consulting other members of the JCP, particularly the nominees of the bar councils in the commission.
“As a matter of fact every member of the commission has a right to nominate, therefore, Sir I will suggest that [a] rules committee may please be formed to be headed by [the] senior puisne judge and rules be amended before calling the next meeting of [the] Judicial Commission of Pakistan for fresh appointments particularly with regard [those[ of the high court judges,” he concluded.
Bilawal consults legal minds on ZAB reference
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday consulted legal minds of his party on the presidential reference case of his late grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The development came during a meeting of central and provincial officials as well as legal experts of the Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF) at Zardari House here. Bilawal chaired the meeting.
During the meeting, the PLF officials briefed Bilawal on the presidential reference case of ZAB. Farooq H Naik and Shahadat Awan participated in the meeting through video link while Qazi Bashir, Bahram Khan Tareen, Raheel Kamran Cheema, Sajid Tanoli, Gohar Rehman Khattak, Ghiyasul Haque and Asrar Abbasi were present.
Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Faisal Karim Kundi, Raza Rabbani and Amna Paracha were also present in the meeting.
Meanwhile, a civil society delegation also met with Bilawal and discussed the challenges faced by the masses and their solutions.
Bilawal appreciated the delegation for their services and performance in their respective fields.
Ahmed Faraz Khan Advocate, Barrister Saifullah Ghori, Bilal Tariq Khan, Dr Abdul Mohiman, Dr Maria Hamid, Dr Salma Malik, Faheem Sardar, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir, Huma Fawad, Jahanzeb Durrani and Kanwal Malik were among those who met the PPP chairman.
Lubna Bhayat, SM Tariq, Javed Akhtar, Pir Mohammad Anwar, Junaid, Raja Mohammad Khan, Sania Kamran, Shehbaz Zaheer, Shamamata Al Ambararbab, Buland Sohail, Kashaf Ahmed, Talha Rahmani, Osama Malik, Usman Iqbal Bandal and Yusuf Masih were part of the delegation. PPP Information Secretary Faisal Karim Kundi was also present on this occasion.
SC to take up appeals against military trial verdict on Dec 13
The Supreme Court is set to take up high-profile cases in the coming week, including the appeals against its verdict in the trial of civilians in military courts and pleas filed by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.
A Supreme Court larger bench will hear on Dec 13 the intra-court appeals against its judgment in the case of civilians being tried in military courts. The appeals have been filed by the caretaker governments and the defence ministry.
On Oct 23, a five-judge bench of the SC unanimously declared the trial of civilians in military courts as null and void and ordered that the 103 accused in cases relating to the violence on May 9 and 10 be tried under ordinary criminal laws.
Moreover, Justice Naqvi, who is facing complaints of misconduct, recently wrote a letter to the top court’s three senior-most judges’ panel to point out the silence over his petitions challenging the issuance of a show-cause notice to him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) despite the lapse of time as stipulated in the SC (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023.
A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Musarrat Hilali, will hear his petitions on December 15.
A nine-member larger bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa will take up a presidential reference for revisiting the judgment wherein the death sentence of PPP founder and former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was endorsed.
The bench will conduct its proceedings in courtroom No. 1 on December 12. These decisions were made by the SC three-member committee comprising CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
The other high-profile cases that will be tackled by the SC in the coming week include the evacuation of illegal Afghan residents, reclassification of commercial land in Karachi, and reinstatement of the FIR against PTI leader Moonis Elahi.
The top court has scheduled the hearing for petitions challenging the evacuation of foreign nationals, especially Afghan citizens, residing unlawfully in the country.
A three-judge bench, comprising Justice Masood, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ayesha Malik, will hear these pleas on December 12.
Farhatullah Babar, Mushtaq Ahmed, Amina Masood Janjua, Mohsin Dawar, Jibran Nasir, Syed Muaz Shah, Pastor Ghazala Parveen, Imaan Zainab Mazari, Ahmad Shabbar, Advocate Imran Shafiq, Luke Victor, Sijal Shafiq, and Rohail Kasi are contesting the evacuation orders.
In a separate case, the dismissal of a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) case against PTI’s Moonis by a special judge in Lahore and then the upholding of that decision by the Lahore High Court, has been challenged in the SC.
The FIA has filed an appeal against the dismissal, leading to a review in the apex court.
Moreover, the SC, previously deliberating on the powers of the caretaker government, directed the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) to assist the court in forming a larger bench to interpret its authority.
In addition, review petitions challenging the decision on the reclassification of land in Karachi to commercial status will be heard in the coming week as well. A three-judge bench, led by Justice Ahsan, is scheduled to hear the matter on December 11.
The court has issued notices to all relevant parties, including the Sindh government, following its earlier ruling invalidating the conversion of public land into residential and commercial categories.
These petitions stem from a challenge initiated in 2010 by former Karachi nazim Niamatullah Khan against the alteration of public land’s categorisation.
A five-judge bench, led by CJP Isa, will also take up on December 14 former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s petition against his removal.
It is expected that the proceedings of both Bhutto and the ex-IHC judge’s cases will be available on the SC website.
SC to share recorded proceedings on website
The Supreme Court is preparing to release recorded proceedings of cases from Monday, marking a significant shift toward transparency in its operations, instead of broadcasting them live.
Initially, the court will share proceedings from Court No. 1, where the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) presides, on the Supreme Court website after the court’s timing.
The move follows the decision made during a full court meeting on September 18, where a majority allowed live coverage of judicial proceedings under the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act 2023. The initiative was piloted with PTV broadcasting the full court proceedings.
Later, a committee, led by Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, was entrusted with assessing various options for streaming court proceedings live.
The committee has now presented its recommendations, deciding that instead of live streaming, recordings of Court No. 1 proceedings will be available on the SC website after the court session on the same day.
The development has evoked mixed reactions among lawyers. While some appreciate the move, a few senior lawyers advocate for live coverage, especially in high-profile cases, believing it would ensure greater transparency.
Read More: CJP says fully cognizant of his duties
The upcoming week holds significant importance for the apex court as it schedules hearings for several important cases.
A nine-member larger bench, headed by CJP Isa, is slated to convene regarding a presidential reference aimed at re-visiting the judgment that endorsed the death sentence of former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
These proceedings are set to take place in Courtroom No. 1 on December 12.
Additionally, a five-judge bench, also under the leadership of CJP Isa, will address the petition filed by former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui against his removal on December 14.
It is expected that the proceedings of both cases will be available on the SC website
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