Despite bar consulted on judges’ appointment...: What’s real motive of lawyers’ protest on Sept 9, asks CJP

Sohail Khan
Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed Monday questioned the protest of lawyers on Sept 9 against the appointment of judges to the superior courts and wondered as to what was the actual motive behind the agitation?

While addressing the new judicial year ceremony, held here in full court, the CJP said he repeatedly invited the bar councils and associations for their input on the appointment of judges to the superior judiciary. “The heads of bar councils and associations, however, replied they were in Peshawar,” the CJP said adding that he did not know why the bar councils took a unilateral decision and protested over the matter.

He said the apex court was always determined to talk with the legal fraternity to chalk out an objective criterion for the elevation of judges from high courts to the Supreme Court. “Still the doors of the Supreme Court were open on lawyers to seek an amicable solution to the appointment of judges to the superior judiciary,” the CJ said adding that lawyers, however, have 0not yet approached him in that regard. “I don’t know as to what was the motive behind the protest, staged on Sept 9 by the lawyer community,” the CJP wondered.

The chief justice said the previous judicial year was one of the most challenging years owing to COVID-19 pandemic. It contributed directly to other challenges, such as delay in disposal of cases.

“In the previous judicial year, one of the main reasons we identified for the backlog of cases was adjournments given to lawyers who were unable to reach Islamabad due to various reasons, such as personal emergencies, or engagements at their own stations.

“I am satisfied that the e-court system, we put in place to deal with problems such as these, has greatly benefited litigants and parties to the cases,” the CJP said, adding that the video-link facility played an active and key part in ensuring smooth operation of our judicial functions throughout the pandemic period.

He said at the beginning of previous judicial year, total 45,644 cases were pending. During the year, about 20,910 fresh cases were instituted, while about 12,968 were decided, including 6,797 civil petitions, 1,916 civil appeals, 459 civil review petitions, 2,625 criminal petitions, 681 criminal appeals, 37 criminal review petitions and 100 criminal original petitions, the CJP said.

He said the Human Rights Cell, established in the Supreme Court, continued to function. The model courts have been established throughout Pakistan to conclude criminal as well as civil cases in few weeks rather than years. From 14-9-20 to 6-9-21, 171 model criminal trial courts decided 14,190 murder and narcotic cases, 149 model trial magistrate courts decided 20,032 cases and 117 model civil appellate courts decided 21,472 cases. In this way, the modal courts decided huge number of 55,694 cases.

This year, the CJP said, they also bid farewell to two distinguished judges: Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Mushir Alam, and they welcomed Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar.

Attorney General Khalid Javed told the sitting the Supreme Court remains incomplete with the strength of 16 out of 17 judges, adding that it would remain so until half the population remains unrepresented owing to the absence of a woman judge in the highest court.

He regretted various bad incidents taking place during the outgoing year. “We dragged judges of subordinate courts from their chairs, harassed and overawed female judges and even stormed a high court and threatened its chief justice with physical assault, Khalid Javed said

Last week, he said, they were reminded that that could happen here at the SC too, and it was only “our generosity that restrained us from crossing the lines”.

“As a member of the bar, I would most earnestly request the leadership of the Bar to lead the profession out of this existential crisis and restore the customary dignity and nobility of the profession,” the AG said. He said he would not blame the bar alone for the morass we have landed into. Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice Chairman Amjid Shah also addressed the full court reference as incumbent vice chairman could not turn up due to his illness.

Amjid Shah said dispensation of speedy and transparent justice at lower courts not satisfactory and requested the CJP to ensure bringing improvement there. He recalled that the courts disposed of cases of former prime minister, but the case of a dictator, who abrogated the constitution twice, was not yet fixed for hearing, adding that they failed thus far to maintain the impression of impartiality and independence of judiciary. He said that a former prime minister was sent packing in Panama case on the basis of Iqama while ignoring the constitutional limits of the Constitution. Amjid Shad said the judges of superior judiciary should not accept any slot after their retirement.