ISLAMABAD - In wake of the 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, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has summoned a meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) on May 7 to consider appointing one acting and two ad-hoc judges in the apex court, sources told Pakistan Today on Tuesday.
The CJ heads the JCP. The prime minister will reportedly file an appeal against his conviction soon after the issuance of the detailed verdict by the apex court in the contempt of court case against him. The sanctioned strength of Supreme Court judges is 17 (including the chief justice of Pakistan), but there are currently 16 judges only.
The seven judges of the Supreme Court’s special bench – 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 the appeal against PM’s conviction under the rules.
When the prime minister files an appeal against his conviction, a separate larger bench would have to be constituted for which the required number of judges is currently not available. Therefore, keeping in view the shortage of judges to hear the expected appeal of the prime minister as well as other matters, the CJ summoned a meeting of the JCP on May 7 to consider appointing at least three judges in the Supreme Court, the sources said.
They said the appointment of one acting judge, from any high court, would be considered against one vacant post, whereas the appointment of two retired judges of the Supreme Court on ad-hoc basis for a year would also be considered. They said the appointment of three judges that 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. They claimed that the JCP would consider names of Justice (r) Mahmood Akhtar Shahid Sidiqqui and Justice (r) Ghulam Rabbani as ad-hoc judges. “Justice (r) Ghulam Rabbani has already worked as an ad hoc judge in the Supreme Court for two years,” they said.
Of the 16 available judges, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan is also functioning as the acting chief election commissioner and remains busy in the affairs of the commission of Pakistan, whereas, there are two other judges as well of the available 16 judges, that will not be available for hearing of the expected appeal of the prime minister due to various reasons.