SC extends tenure of 32 ad hoc judges -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

SC extends tenure of 32 ad hoc judges

* Term extended ‘until further ordersÂ’, subject to decision of 18th Amendment case

* AG tells court judges can be allowed to continue performing their duties

By Masood Rehman

ISLAMABAD: Averting a possible judicial crisis, the Supreme Court on Monday extended the tenure of 32 additional judges of the four provincial high courts “until further orders, subject to the decision of 18th Amendment case”.

These ad hoc judges had been appointed last year for a period of one year and were scheduled to retire in September.

The chief justices of the four provincial high courts earlier wrote to SC Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, telling him about the looming judicial crisis and the government’s failure to “respond in a timely fashion to the issue”.

The brief order issued on Monday by the 17-member full court, headed by CJP Chaudhry, stated, “The completion of one-year period of the appointment of additional judges at provincial high courts may give rise to constitutional complications, particularly in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Thus, in order to avoid any constitutional void, we direct that the learned additional judges of all the high courts continue to perform as additional judges until further orders, subject to the final decision of the 18th Amendment case.”

The apex court ruling will be applicable to 12 judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC), seven of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), nine of the Sindh High Court (SHC) and all four judges of the Balochistan High Court (BHC).

The court passed the interim order after Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq told the court that instead of suspending constitutional provisions, the existing additional judges could be allowed to perform their duties.

On the last hearing, the court had directed the attorney general to discuss the issue of retirement of all BHC judges with the federal government. All BHC judges are going to retire on September 6.

On Monday, Haq told the court that the government was going to form a parliamentary committee by today (Tuesday).

Rasheed A Rizvi, counsel for the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), read out the letter written by BHC CJ Qazi Faez Esa to the SC, which stated that the provincial high court was left with only two options: either to suspend Article 175-A or to extend the tenure of the judges.

The letter stated that the BHC comprises four judges, who had appointed as additional judges, for a period of one year, which would expire on September 6, 2010.

“All the four judges have proven to be good judges. However, they have neither been confirmed nor their term of office has been extended. The dawn of September 7, 2010 will witness the BHC without any of its judges. The people of the province will suffer unimaginably,” the BHC chief justice said in the letter.
Source: Daily Times