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Justice Isa urges CJP Bandial to summon JCP meeting ‘immediately’

Justice Qazi Faez Isa. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa Friday urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to “immediately” summon the Judicial Commission of Pakistan’s (JCP) meeting to fill the vacant Supreme Court seats because the unfilled seats may leave Pakistan’s highest court “dysfunctional”.

The puisne judge appealed to the CJP — who is also the JCP’s chairman — in a letter dated September 28. A copy of the letter is available with Geo.tv.

Justice Isa underlined due to the five vacancies, the apex court has lost 726 working days and more than “50,000 cases have accumulated in the Supreme Court” during this time.

Name of ex- SC judge Retirement date Days since retired
Justice Gulzar Ahmed February 1, 2022 239
Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed March 25, 2022 187
Justice Maqbool Bagar April 4, 2022 177
Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel July 13, 2022 77
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah August 13 2022 46
Total: 726

“It pains me to state that cases filed in the Supreme Court are unlikely to ever get decided if the vacancies are not filled in,” Justice Isa told the CJP in the letter.

The judge reminded the JCP chairman that people have “invested heavily in the Supreme Court which employs about 700 staff and has a considerable budget”. He further argued that it was “not understandable why the Supreme Court” was working at a 30% reduced capacity in such circumstances.”

“Every passing day that the five vacancies remain unfilled adds to the existing mountain of cases, threatening to render it insurmountable, which may leave the Supreme Court dysfunctional. The same staff and money which would serve a full court also serve a truncated one, therefore, there is a needless haemorrhaging of resources,” Justice Isa stated.

The senior puisne judge the constitutional obligation of “expeditious justice” falls on the supreme court and the responsibility falls on Justice Bandial as he is the chief justice. We must not let down the people of Pakistan and erode their confidence in the Supreme Court and continue to waste their hard-earned money, he added.

“Sir, I have repeatedly called upon you to do your constitutional duty, and let the members of the commission do theirs. Therefore, please convene a meeting of the commission immediately to enable the commission to nominate judges to the Supreme Court,” concluded Justice Isa.

JCP meeting controversy

The last JCP meeting was held in July last year where it was reported based on sources that the commission had rejected CJP Bandial’s nominated judges of higher courts for their elevation to the SC.

CJP Bandial had presided over the judicial commission’s session, where a total of five judges, two from the Sindh High Court and three from the Lahore High Court (LHC), were considered.

However, the official statement issued by the Supreme Court stated that the JCP chairman, after detailed discussion, proposed to “defer the meeting in order to enable the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan to place additional information and data about those already proposed and if he considers appropriate, add more names to the list of proposees for consideration by the JCP”.

“The proposal to defer the meeting was supported by Mr Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Mr Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Mr Justice (Retd) Sarmad Jalal Osmany and the Attorney General for Pakistan. It was accordingly decided to defer the meeting. The date of the next meeting will be communicated to the Members of the Judicial Commission by the Chairman, JCP,” the statement had said.

However after the statement was made public, two members of the JCP— Justice Isa and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood — stated that the statement was not reflective of what had transpired in the JCP meeting.

Following criticism, the apex court uploaded the audio of the JCP meeting on its website.

“In these exceptional circumstances the Hon’ble chairman JCP has been pleased to relax the restriction under Rule 5(4) of the JCP Rules, 2010 and has directed for the audio recording of the JCP proceedings of 28.07.2022 to be made available on the official website of the SCP,” said a statement issued by the apex court.

The Supreme Court, in its statement, claimed that the “audio recording from time slot 1:29:45 to 1:38:08 contains the statement” made by Attorney-General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali, led to the deferment of the meeting as claimed by the PRO.

The statement also claimed that the AGP “did not assess or reject the merits of any of the High Court judges proposed for appointment to the SCP”.

“As a result, 5 members of the JCP supported the deferment of the meeting as reported in the Press Note of 28.07.2022,” said the SCP.

Source: The News

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