LHC judges appointed amid parliamentary silence


LAHORE: Eight judges nominated to the Lahore High Court (LHC) by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) have been appointed without parliamentary oversight since parliamentary committees, including the Parliamentary Committee on Judicial Appointments, are yet to be formed, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to sources, a JCP meeting under the chairpersonship of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was held on October 2, wherein the commission recommended names of Anwaarul Haq Pannu, Asim Hafeez, Risaal Syed, Shakeelur Rehman, Sadiq Mehmood Khurram, Farooq Haider, Ch Waheed Khan and Ahmad Raza for new LHC judges while the panel did not endorse Uzma Chughtai, Shakir Ali and Tafazzul Rizvi.

Normally, the names should have been vetted by the Parliamentary Committee on Judicial Appointments through in-camera hearings, the records of which would then be published.

However, Article 175-A (12) of the constitution holds, “The committee on receipt of a nomination from the commission may confirm the nominee by majority of its total membership within fourteen days, failing which the nomination shall be deemed to have been confirmed.”

With the passing of the 14 days and the committee yet to be formed, the judges will stand appointed. The issue was pointed out by High Court Advocate Umer Gillani, who said that in current times, parliamentary silence on such issues was deadly.

Equating the appointments to be Pakistan’s version of the recent highly publicised and controversial US Supreme Court nomination hearing of Bret Kavanaugh, Gilani said, “It seems that this parliament has not yet bothered to constitute the committee or has kept it a secret.”

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Advocate Majid Bashir confirmed that the nominations stand appointed as per the constitution.

“The goal of this committee was to involve parliament in this process and make it more streamlined. This committee should have been one of the first to be constituted because of the urgency of the matter,” he said.

“This is the failure of those in parliament that they do not seem interested or involved judicial matters. This is the second occurrence in recent times where appointments have been made without their involvement.”

If the committee had been formed, then it would have had the power to block names, but the nominations will now simply go to the President for confirmation.

Meanwhile, Shahbaz, the spokesperson of the LHC, said that the notification of any new appointments to the provincial high court was yet to be made.

“The notification will be issued from the LHC only after the president has approved and signed the appointments, as it will be at that point that the judges will assume office,” he said.

Other than the eight judges nominated to the LHC, back on October 2, the LHC has also proposed confirmation of six LHC additional judges, namely Justice Mujahid Mustaqim Ahmad, Justice Asjad Javaid Ghural, Justice Jawad Hassan, Justice Muzammil, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, and Justice Chaudhry Abdul Aziz. The commission, however, did not recommend confirmation of Justice Tariq Iftikhar.