SC rejects review plea on judges` extension
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday a government petition seeking review of an order extending the service of six additional judges of the high courts of Punjab and Sindh.
“We are sorry that we are dismissing the review petition,” observed a four-judge bench comprising Justice Mahmood Akhtar Shahid Siddiqui, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez.
But the court kept pending a petition filed by advocates Munir Hussain Bhatti and Kamran Murtaza seeking contempt proceedings against Law Secretary Masood Chisti.
The petition, drafted by former attorney general Makhdoom Ali Khan, has requested the court to punish the law secretary for not implementing its verdict which has asked the federal government to immediately issue a notification endorsing the extension of service of four judges of the Lahore High Court in line with the Judicial Commission`s (JC) recommendations.
The petition will be taken up by the bench next week.
The government`s review petition had sought review of the March 21 verdict of the Supreme Court rejecting the Parliamentary Committee`s (PC) disapproval of a one-year extension sought by the JC for six judges of the LHC and Sindh High Court.
The rejection of the review petition requires the government to immediately issue a notification to appoint the six additional judges for a one-year period.
“The law secretary is aware of the petition and if he fails to notify the extension of these judges he may face contempt proceedings when the matter will be taken up by the court next week,” a senior counsel said.
The controversy over the powers of the PC and JC erupted in the first week of February when the eight-member bipartisan committee, headed by Senator Nayyar Hussain Bokhari of the PPP, rejected JC`s recommendations to extend the service of four additional judges of the LHC – Justices Muhammad Yawar Ali, Syed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, Mamood Rashid Sheikh and Muhammad Farrakuh Irfan Khan. On March 1, the committee also rejected JC`s nominations of Justices Muhammad Tasnim and Salman Hamid of the SHC.
In its 52-page review petition drafted by Additional Attorney General K.K. Agha, the government said the Supreme Court had gone beyond its power of interpreting the Constitution under the doctrine of judicial review and partly rewritten Article 175-A of the Constitution and rendered the role of the PC virtually meaningless and redundant in the new judicial appointment process.
During the proceedings on Wednesday, Justice Khawaja observed that the PC was a committee of parliamentarians vested with the powers to appoint judges and not the parliament itself. “The committee is answerable to the parliament. Besides, there is no room in the Constitution to establish parallel institutions,” he observed.