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June 1, 2019

Another would-be chief justice in the eye of storm


June 1, 2019

ISLAMABAD: After Justice Qazi Faez Isa, another would-be chief justice is in the eye of storm with anti-judiciary elements are on the lookout for a “dossier” to use in the reference that they plan to file against him, The News has learnt on good authority.

Undeterred by public outcry triggered after renewed efforts to silence the bold voices in the judiciary, efforts are in progress to target judges who either hand critical verdicts or even pass remarks generating resonance on the issues rarely discussed in public domain due to fear of reprisal.

Remarks of the senior judge during the hearings of cases were not liked.

A couple of lawyers has been consulted for the purpose, The News has learnt. Since the judge under question commands financial integrity, the scope of investigation has been widened to look for procedural irregularities or anything else that can be used to make a point in the reference.

A source privy to developments claims that allegedly certain omissions in date of birth of the judge is one of the reasons under discussion that can be challenged to thwart his elevation to the top position. How much credible is the omission remains to be seen as such attempts in the past backfired due to lack of evidence.

A report on judges’ background prepared in the past describes him “generally regarded hardworking and honest judge.” It, however, mentions his penchant for harsh observations and also the freedom he exercises in decision-making. “He is soft spoken but harsh in observations on any legality coming to his notice…He is independent minded, believer of independence of judiciary and rule of law,” according to that report.

There are seven judges in the present lot who will become chief justices in coming years. Justice Gulzar Ahmed tops in the list. He will succeed Justice Asif Saeed Khosa in December 2019 remaining chief justice until February 2, 2022. Justice Umar Ata Bandial will replace him to serve at the top position for the duration of nineteen month retiring on August 16, 2023.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa will be the next. His stint will coincide with the general elections of 2023. There is a general impression that attempts of his premature removal have been launched to ensure that elections are not held under his watch. Justice Ijazul Hassan’s term starts afterward. He will replace Justice Isa and serve as chief justice for ten months.

After that, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah will be the senior most judge who will come in. He will hold the position for over two years retiring on November 26, 2027. Justice Munib Akhtar will be the next to elevate. He will hold the slot for more than one year till December 13, 2028. The last and seventh chief justice from the present lot will be Justice Yahya Afridi who will preside over the Supreme Court for more than one year and retire on January 22, 2030.

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