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February 10, 2019

Ex-judge moves PHC against Judicial Commission’s in-camera proceedings


February 10, 2019

PESHAWAR: A former judge of the high court Muhammad Azeem Khan Afridi on Saturday challenged the Judicial Commission of Pakistan’s in-camera proceedings in the Peshawar High Court.

Azeem Afridi filed the writ petition through his lawyer Muazzam Butt. The petitioner requested the court to declare clause 4 of rule 5 of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan Rules, 2010 constraining the commission to hold its proceedings in-camera as void ab initio.

The high court was told that the commission is bound to adhere to the principles of merit and transparency in discharge of its functions and record its decisions under the hands and signatures of its members.

It also requested the court to declare that the secretary of the commission is obliged to limit its functions and authority to the extent authorised to him under the rules.

It was submitted that under Rule 2 (e), the secretary, registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, shall forward the nominations made by the commission to the secretary of the Parliamentary Committee constituted under clause 9 of Article 175-A of the Constitution.

It said that under clause 4 of Rule 5 of Judicial Commission of Pakistan Rules, 2010, “The proceedings of the Commission shall be held in-camera. A record of the proceedings shall be prepared and maintained by the secretary of the Commission duly certified by chairman under his hands.”

It said the above provisions of the said rules would suggest that no role whatsoever is authorised to the secretary of the commission except to forward nominations of the commission, and preparing and maintaining its records.

“Unfortunately, and as evident from the records of minutes of the meeting dated October 12, 2012, the most important and most crucial functions of the commission, ie nominations of persons for appointment of judges of the high court, is performed by the secretary and that too in a manner neither authorised to the commission, by the Constitution, nor by the rules to the secretary of the Commission,” the petitioner argued.

It was submitted that mere narration of such nominations by the secretary, in his forwarding note and communiqué, can neither have validity nor considered as a decision lawfully made by the commission for validating such nominations.

In grounds of the petition, it was argued that no law aimed at depriving public functionaries, the citizens and constitutional entities such as the commission from portraying loyalties to the state and obedience to constitution and law can be lawfully enacted, implemented and followed.

It was submitted that the said rules meant for regulating the proceedings of the commission have prima facie commandeered the sanctity and integrity of the commission and hence is liable to be struck off.

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