SC judge backs CJP’s nominees from SHC

Our Correspondent
Friday, Aug 05, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Senior Judge of the Supreme Court Justice Sajjad Ali Shah has expressed full confidence in the integrity of judges of Sindh High Court recommended by the Chief Justice of Pakistan for their elevation to the Supreme Court.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who is going to lay down his robes next week after attaining the age of superannuation, wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan and members of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, expressing full confidence in three judges of the Sindh High Court, including Justice Syed Hassan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Muhammad Shafi Siddique and Justice Niamat Ullah Phulpoto.

“Having served with the nominees from Sindh for a number of years, I can say with full confidence that their integrity is beyond doubt,” Justice Sajjad Ali Shah said adding that questioning the integrity of judges based on hearsay from “one or two lawyers” who are not even named is regrettable. The senior judge of the Supreme Court said it appears that in the spirit of opposing these nominations, measures which caused unjustifiable harm to the reputation of these judges were resorted to and as head of the institution “I would request you to do everything in your power to restore that reputation. Confidence in their integrity and character must be inspired and restored for the sake of the institution.”

“Let us not lose sight of the fact that these nominees did not come forward and apply for this candidature but were nominated based on their credentials,” Justice Sajjad Ali Shah added. The senior judge said that the learned Attorney General of Pakistan did not take the name of a single nominee judge let alone address their competence or their required traits for elevation to this court.

“On the contrary, when one of the judicial members of the commission requested for rejection of the nominations, he specifically while raising his hand, said no, no and requested for adjournment of the meeting till settlement of the criteria for selection of the candidates as is evident from the audio recording,” Justice Shah said

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah said that he received two letters via WhatsApp from Justice Qazi Faiz Issa and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood detailing their version of events that took place in the meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan on 28/7/2022.

“I am writing this for the record as one of the honourable members, to contradict the press-note released by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, asserted that none of the members present denied the earlier communication”, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah wrote

The senior judge said that since the audio recording of the entire proceedings has been made public, “recording my reservations regarding certain things said during the meeting has become unavoidable.”

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah further said that he has served the superior judiciary for more than 17 years and had the honour of attending several meetings of the judicial commission as a senior puisne judge and then as Chief Justice from the province of Sindh. The senior judge said that disagreements between members of the JC are not unusual but in my experience, the objections surrounding such disagreements have been less impetuous in the past.

“Without intending any disrespect, I was disappointed that one of the honourable members from the judicial side spoke about the integrity of the judges from Sindh by saying that he has gained such information from one or two lawyers that he knows from Sindh, the worth of such information could be gauged from the fact that the representative of the lawyers viz Akhtar Hussain did not question their integrity and specifically stated that so far the nominee’s Shafi Siddiqui J and Hasan Azhar Rizvi J were concerned he was disputing their nomination on the principle of seniority and had no issue with other traits. Besides with all the humility and respect in my command,” Justice Shah wrote.

The senior judge said that the honourable member did not have the confidence in his colleagues to consult them on this issue adding that two members of the JC had not only served the Sindh High Court for more than a decade but also had remained its Chief Justices. “If confidence could not be found in the members of the JC, there were two more judges presently serving in the Supreme Court, other than the members of the JC, who have served the Sindh High Court for a decade who could have been consulted on this issue,” Justice Shah wrote.

“Since I will be laying down my robes in a few days, therefore, would not have the onerous duty of attending the next meeting of the judicial commission, therefore, would request the Chief Justice to place this letter on record,” Justice Sajjad Ali Shah concluded.