Experts demand appointment of SC judges
By Mohammad Kamran
ISLAMABAD: Constitutional experts and senior lawyers have stressed the need for the immediate appointment of judges to superior courts in Pakistan to fulfil the constitutional requirements and to expedite justice.
A majority of lawyers resented the “undue and unjustified delay” in the appointment of judges and accused the government of curtailing the mandatory strength of judges, which they said was aimed at subduing the judicial system.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan consists of 17 judges, including the chief justice, but five positions have been vacant for the last few months. Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Justice (R) Tariq Mahmood told Daily Times on Monday that there was no constitutional or legal hitch in the appointment of judges. “What the president needs is to furnish the nominations in consultation with the chief justice of Pakistan. There is already a backlog of cases and the short strength of judges will aggravate litigants’ problems,” the bar president said.
Advocate Habibul Wahab Al Khairi said that by not making the appointments to superior courts, the government was breaching the Constitution. He said under Article 177 (1) of the Constitution, each SC judge would be appointed by the president in consultation with the chief justice.
Mr Khairi said hundreds of cases related to the Shariat Appellate Bench’s jurisdiction had been pending due to the absence of the bench. “Cases will leave a deep impact on the social and political life and the adjudication of these cases is necessary,” he said.
SCBA Vice President Ikram Chaudhry accused the government of subjugating the judiciary by curtailing its strength. “The government has destroyed all institutions and now it wants to attack the judiciary by curtailing its strength,” he said.
Hamid Khan, former president of the SCBA, said the government was not a constitutional government. “Military rulers are not ready to pay attention to the constitutional requirements. The judges’ appointment is a serious issue but the government is taking it for granted.”
Senator Latif Khosa, also a practicing lawyer, said he had written a letter to the chief justice of Pakistan, asking him to fulfil his constitutional obligations regarding the appointment of judges. He said the opposition had raised the issue in the Senate and its chairman had assured the opposition that judges would be appointed immediately.
“But so far there are no visible signs that can guarantee the government’s sincerity on this issue,” said Mr Khosa.
SCBA Finance Secretary Zulfiqar Bhutta said it was unfortunate that the supreme court was short of its mandatory strength. “Only a full court strength can ensure speedy justice and clearance of the backlog of cases, which is a judicial tragedy in Pakistan,” he added.