ISLAMABAD - In the wake of expected appeal to be filed by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani against his conviction in the contempt of court case and subsequent shortage of judges in the Supreme Court to hear the appeal, the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) is likely to meet this week to consider appointing one acting and two adhoc judges in the apex court, sources told Pakistan Today on Sunday.
The sanctioned strength of Supreme Court judges is 17 (including the chief justice of Pakistan) while currently 16 judges are performing their function.
According to the law, the seven judges of the Supreme Court’s special bench that included Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Ather Saeed, who convicted the prime minister cannot hear his appeal against his conviction.
If the prime minister files an appeal against his conviction, which he will reportedly file, a separate larger bench would have to be constituted for which required number of judges is not available. Therefore, keeping in view the shortage of judges to hear the expected appeal of the prime minister against his conviction as well as other matters, the JCP is likely to meet this week to consider appointing at least three judges in the SC, sources said. They said the appointment of one acting judge, from any high court, would be considered against the one vacant post, whereas appointments of two retired judges of the SC on adhoc basis for one year will also be considered.
Sources further said appointment of three judges, which would be considered by the JCP in its meeting, was imperative to hear the expected appeal of the prime minister against his conviction as well as some other matters. Of the 16 available judges, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan is also functioning as acting chief election commissioner and remains busy in the affairs of the Election Commission of Pakistan, whereas, there are two other judges as well of the available 16 judges, who will not be available for hearing of the expected appeal of the prime minister due to different reasons.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice-Chairman Akhtar Hussain said in a statement here on Sunday that the PBC would oppose appointment of acting and adhoc judges in the Supreme Court. He said the PBC has a consistent stand that no adhoc and acting judge should be appointed in the SC.
He recalled that previously on the protest of the PBC, the chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry had withdrawn the name of Justice (r) Khalilur Rehman Ramday for being appointed as an adhoc judge of the Supreme Court. He said initiating the names for appointment as acting and adhoc judges in the SC will create a serious controversy in the country and the bar will strongly resist such appointments.
He also expressed serious concern over several vacancies of judges in the Sindh High Court, Lahore High Court as well as other high courts, which he said needed to be filled immediately, as due to these vacancies, the litigant public was badly suffering from inordinate delay in hearing and disposal of their cases.