Supreme Court needs criminal laws expert judge
CJP expected to call meeting of JCP body soon to amend commission’s rules
February 27, 2022
ISLAMABAD: After the retirement of former chief justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, the Supreme Court requires a judge who has expertise in criminal laws.
A total of 7,485 criminal petitions, 2,763 jail pleas and 767 criminal appeals were pending in the apex court until February 15.
Ex-CJP Khosa had mainly focused disposal of criminal matters during his tenure. He was successful in clearing a massive backlog of criminal cases.
Justice Malik, who retired in May last year, was also heading a bench that decided criminal matters.
Currently, three judges -- Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi -- are known to have expertise in criminal laws. However, Justice Qazi Amin Ahmed is retiring next month. Four more SC judges will retire in the next six months. One seat is already vacant.
In view of the prevailing situation, one section of lawyers is suggesting that CJP Umar Ata Bandial, being the chairman of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP), should recommend the name of any high court judge who has expertise in this area.
However, a few lawyers believe that an SC judge should have expertise to adjudicate a case of any nature.
They also say that constitutional judges evolve jurisprudence in criminal cases. SC judge Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah has given a number of landmark judgments in criminal cases.
A representative of the Sindh High Court Bar Association said Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh should be elevated to the SC to end the tension between bench and bar on judges’ appointment.
He added that Justice Sheikh had heard criminal cases throughout his tenure.
However, it has been learnt that a few members of the JCP want that the SHC CJ should accept his ad-hoc appointment as an SC judge in view of the commission's last year decision. Later, the JCP may appoint him as a permanent SC judge.
One section of the lawyers in Sindh fears that if the SHC CJ accepts his ad-hoc appointment, then it will severely affect the independence of judiciary. Some lawyers want that Justice Qazi Amin Ahmed should be appointed as an ad-hoc judge after his retirement on March 25.
However, the superior bars are reluctant to budge from its stance on the seniority principle for the appointment of SC judges.
Even three JCP members -- Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood -- have also supported the bars’ demand for adhering to the seniority principle in the absence of objective criteria for judges’ elevation to the top court.
It has been learnt that CJP Umar Ata Bandial might summon a meeting of the commission's committee soon to consider amendments to the JCP rules 2010 for improving the criteria for judges’ appointment to the superior courts soon.
The committee was formed by former CJP Gulzar Ahmed and now it is headed by incumbent Chief Justice Bandial. Justice Maqbool Baqar, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan and Akhtar Hussain are members of the committee.
The body will formulate objective criteria to appoint judges, whose competency, integrity, temperament and independence should be beyond any doubt.
Senior lawyers say that there is the issue of mistrust about judges’ appointments to the SC. They say that the new CJP should address JCP members’ apprehensions about judges’ appointment.
They also believe that there is a need to end the perception of nepotism in the appointment process....