ISLAMABAD: On Tuesday, when LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan removed the entire list of 16 proposed titles, the much needed promotion procedure of judges to the Lahore High Court hit snags.
Consequently, a meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) chaired by Gulzar Ahmed, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, had to be postponed and re-established after the Commission had finalised a new list for consideration.
A development source confided to Dawn that the chief justice of the LHC withdrew the list as none of the commission members seemed to be pleased with the suggestions.
It seems that the JCP’s Antecedent Committee was not pleased with the names of some of the candidates to be named as LHC judges,’ the source said, adding that after consultation with the bar councils and associations as well as other stakeholders, the names were finalised this time.
On condition of anonymity, a senior lawyer called the postponement of the elevation process detrimental and not good for the judiciary, especially as the whole process had reached an advanced stage. He said, however, that removing the names at the beginning of the meeting was better than refusing the same without debating the credentials of each candidate in depth one by one.
The lawyer admitted, however, that the document still included the names of candidates who enjoyed a strong record in terms of their integrity and general regard for society. Therefore, he continued, since there was no other bar or limit in this respect, they should be included in the current list to be finalised again.
At present, the counsel said, 40 judges conduct judicial duties in the high court against the approved strength of 60 judges as the elevation process was carried out after a two-year delay.
Earlier, at its 2016 meeting, the JCP had considered 16 names and eight new judges were confirmed. Similarly, in 2018, the JCP considered another eight people. One of them retired, while five were later confirmed as full LHC judges.
For the past few years, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), which governs legal fraternity relations, has been requesting that the JCP change the nomination process accordingly and has also forwarded to the Commission a collection of amendments.