Chief Justice of Pakistan Calls for Meeting to Discuss Amendments to Judicial Appointment Process

Pakistan's top judge calls for judicial reforms to ensure transparent and merit-based appointment of judges, addressing concerns over rule of law and judicial independence.

Rizwan Shah
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Chief Justice of Pakistan Calls for Meeting to Discuss Amendments to Judicial Appointment Process

Chief Justice of Pakistan Calls for Meeting to Discuss Amendments to Judicial Appointment Process

On April 21, 2024, Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa called for a Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) meeting on May 3 to discuss proposed amendments to the process of appointing judges in superior courts. The amendments were recommended by a rules-making committee headed by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah in January 2024, amid vacancies in the Supreme Court and Lahore High Court.

The proposed amendments include suggesting three individuals for each Supreme Court vacancy, initiating nominations for high court judges through a three-member selection committee, and involving the JCP in the appointment process for chief justices and judges of the high courts and the Federal Shariat Court. The committee has also suggested criteria for assessing the suitability of judicial candidates, including their capacity to dispense justice impartially, professional qualifications, experience, and other attributes.

Why this matters: The meeting aims to address the state of the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution in Pakistan, which has been a concern raised by various stakeholders, including Imran Khan, the PTI Chairman. The proposed amendments seek to ensure a more transparent and merit-based appointment process for judges in superior courts, which is crucial for maintaining the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

The move comes in response to a letter from six judges of the Islamabad High Court regarding alleged interference in judicial affairs by the country's intelligence apparatus, which led to the formation of a commission to investigate the concerns. The Supreme Court has also called for proposals from key stakeholders, including the Pakistan Bar Council, Supreme Court Bar Association, high courts, and the federal government, to devise institutional responses and mechanisms to prevent similar issues in the future and hold those responsible accountable.

Imran Khan, the incarcerated PTI founder, has called for punishing those who have subverted the Constitution and for the Supreme Court to take strict action to restore the judiciary's independence. The letter also raises concerns about the National Accountability Bureau's handling of cases, the Bahawalnagar incident, and the May 9 protests, urging the Supreme Court to address these issues on a priority basis.

The Lahore High Court has convened a full-court meeting on April 22 to solicit suggestions on how to protect the independence of the judiciary, and the Islamabad High Court Bar Association has filed a petition demanding a probe into the letter from judges alleging interference in the judiciary. Chief Justice Isa has emphasized the need to deliberate on these matters to uphold the Constitution and maintain public trust in the judicial system.

Key Takeaways

  • CJ Isa calls JCP meeting on May 3 to discuss judge appointment process amendments.
  • Proposed changes include 3 nominees per SC vacancy, 3-member high court selection committee.
  • Amendments aim to ensure transparent, merit-based judge selection for judicial independence.
  • Islamabad HC judges allege interference in judiciary, call for Supreme Court action.
  • LHC, IHCBA take steps to protect judicial independence amid concerns raised.