Friday August 19, 2022

JCP member urges vote taking before ‘abrupt’ end to meetings

By Our Correspondent
August 06, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Senior Advocate of Supreme Court Akhtar Hussain, who is part of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan as a representative of the Pakistan Bar Council, on Friday stressed on meetings of the body ending with a formal vote-taking rather than the discussion “abruptly” ending without resolution, Geo News reported.

Advocate Hussain became the latest member to write to the commission and the chief justice, saying in his letter that he was “compelled” to do so. He noted that Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and the Attorney General for Pakistan, Ashtar Ausaf, wrote letters addressed to the body before him.

The advocate said that he feels that in the first place “the writing of such letters and issuance of press releases and audio proceedings of the commission’s meeting should not have been necessary.”

He requested the Chief Justice of Pakistan to activate the Rule Making Committee of the commission for devising draft rules and criteria for the appointment and approval of judges in the superior judiciary.

Akhtar Hussain, the PBC representative, has written a letter to the CJP and JCP members in this regard. He has requested the CJP, who is also the JCP chairman, that the Rule Making Committee be activated under the chairmanship of the senior puisne judge as per past practice with a clear mandate to solicit the views of all stakeholders and thereafter devise draft rules and criteria for the appointments within four weeks.

“Since becoming a member of the commission, I have been emphasizing that our proceedings and decisions should be a deliberative, collective and collegiate exercise. We must neither divide ourselves in camps nor treat the commission’s decisions as an internal election. We must neither seek to rush through our favoured candidates when we feel we are in majority nor seek to unnecessarily postpone proceedings when we feel we are in minority. The fierce and evident divisions that have cropped up within the judicial institution are not in the national interest,” he said.

Akhtar said that in the past few meetings of the commission, especially the last one, there was a consensus among the majority of commission members to amend the JCP rules and frame more objective, transparent and measurable criteria and processes for the nomination and appointment of judges. He said the majority wanted adhering to the seniority principle until this process was completed and allowing all commission members to propose nominees for appointment rather than the CJP alone.

“This must be treated as a decision of the commission and implemented accordingly rather than needlessly making alternative nominations which are not approved (as happened on the last three occasions),” he said, adding that this was the only solution to avoid factionalism which was unfortunately prevailing. “No doubt, the learned attorney general also went on to observe that the commission should defer all matters until rules and criteria for appointments are framed.”

“But given that the only other person who had proposed deferring the meeting (albeit for entirely different grounds) was your lordship himself. It cannot be said that the majority of commission members had decided to defer the meeting,” Akhtar submitted.