ISLAMABAD.: The lawyers have decided to boycott all court proceedings today (Tuesday) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa over not elevating Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth to the Supreme Court.
The K-P Bar Council – with the majority – took the decision of holding a strike to protest against Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed for not considering Justice Seth for elevation to the apex court and instead nominating Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi of the Lahore High Court (LHC).
The K-P lawyers believe that it is unfair not to elevate judges on the basis of the seniority principle.
However, lawyers are divided over the elevation of judges on the principle of seniority. One section of the legal community has a consistent view that seniority shouldn’t be the only factor and the criteria should include competency and reputation.
Two former chief justices – Mian Saqib Nisar and Asif Saeed Khosa – during their respective tenures didn’t adhere to the principle of seniority while elevating judges to the apex court. Three junior judges – Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Qazi Amin Ahmad and Justice Muhammad Aminuddin Khan – were elevated on the basis of “competency and reputation”.
The SC in its judgment in Faqir Khokhar’s case has already maintained that appointment of the SC judge is a fresh appointment and a junior judge can also be elevated. Even, supporters of Justice Naqvi say that despite reservation on a few of his verdicts, he authored more than 37,000 judgments during his 10-year tenure. Renowned lawyer Saiful Malook believes that Justice Naqvi is the country’s best judge having great expertise in criminal law.
Meanwhile, the K-P Bar Council in its statement also wondered why judges were not being elevated from other provinces where the number of judges was lesser than in Punjab.
Currently, the provincial representation of the judges of the apex court included eight judges from Punjab, six from Sindh, two from K-P, one from Balochistan and none from the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
The last judge appointed to the apex court from Balochistan was five-and-a-half years ago and from Sindh and K-P around two years ago.
Earlier, Justice Qazi Faez Isa in his dissent note had endorsed the parliamentary committee’s earlier concern over the low elevation rate of judges to SC from smaller provinces and ICT.
The top court judge in his note stated that the Constitution does not mandate appointments by province/territory, however, misgivings generated when all other provinces and the ICT were ignored for no discernible reason and chief justices and senior judges were bypassed.
Likewise, superior bars are unanimously demanding that the outspoken judge, Seth, should be elevated to the Supreme Court this year.