Panel agrees on mode of judges' appointment -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Panel agrees on mode of judges’ appointment

By Asim Yasin

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms on Tuesday finally succeeded in breaking the deadlock on the mode of appointment of judges of the superior judiciary as consensus was evolved on the formation of judicial and parliamentary commissions for making such appointments in line with the Charter of Democracy.

The committee, in a meeting at the Parliament House, gave a green signal for the setting up of two commissions – judicial and parliamentary – for the purpose. The judicial commission will formulate the list of nominees while the parliamentary commission will scrutinise and give the final approval.

The committee, which has been debating the issue for the last two weeks, was forced to suspend its proceedings for a week when the PML-N threatened to quit the committee over the recent standoff over the appointment of judges.

It was agreed that an eight-member parliamentary committee will scrutinise the names and credentials of the judges forwarded by the Law Ministry officials and will recommend those to the Presidency for approval.

Earlier, the committee in its last week’s sittings had failed to achieve consensus on the method as suggested in the Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed by the Pakistan People’s Party and the PML-N in 2007.

The PML-Q and the Jamaat-e-Islami had opposed the formation of the committee for judges’ appointment but on Tuesday they retreated from their stand, paving the way for a consensual approval of the suggestion.

According to Clause 2 of the CoD, the recommendations for the appointment of judges to the superior judiciary shall be formulated through a commission, which shall be headed by a chief justice, who has never taken oath under a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).

The other members of the commission shall be the chief justices of the high courts, the vice-chairmen of the Pakistan Bar Council and the provincial bar council with respect to the appointment of the judges to their concerned provinces; the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association in respect of the judges of the apex court; presidents of the provincial high court bars to their concerned province and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT); the federal law minister, provincial law minister of the concerned province, the attorney general of Pakistan and the advocate general of the concerned province.

The commission shall forward a panel of three names for each vacancy to the prime minister, who shall forward one of them to the joint parliamentary committee for its confirmation through a transparent public hearing within 30 days.

The committee shall have 50 per cent members from the treasury benches and 50 per cent from the opposition parties based on their strength in parliament to be nominated by their respective parliamentary leaders.

The prime minister, who presently has no role in the appointment of superior courts judges, will get significant powers if this proposal is approved. The president’s current important role in such nominations will also be greatly curtailed.
Source: The News
Date:2/24/2010