PDM and courts

A fight against fixed benches

The names of junior High Court judges proposed for elevation to the Supreme Court by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) were opposed by a majority of five to four. Those who opposed the move maintained that the principle of seniority was again being ignored and an attempt was afoot to raise junior judges from High Courts to the apex court without first developing criteria for their nominations. A senior judge of the SC maintained that the move by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr Justice Umar Atta  Bandial, amounted to ‘contravening the Constitution’ and showing ‘favouritism’ and ‘discrimination’. After the rebuff Chief Justice Bandial did not “dictate the decisions and left the meeting quite abruptly”. The episode shows once again that there are informal groupings In the superior judiciary based on proximity of views on major issue like merit, rule of law and human rights. Among other things this explains why judges who are otherwise competent fail to reach the SC. This requires formation of balanced benches so that ideological orientations do not influence the dispensation of justice

This also explains why the the PDM continues to stick to the demand for the formation of a full court for the interpretation of Article 63-A. It was maintained at the PDM meeting that the three-member bench comprised judges who were already prejudiced against it and wanted to facilitate Imran Khan. It was claimed that the bench had exceeded its constitutional limit while interpreting Article 63- A. It had thus created confusion and unrest and given birth to crisis. The PDM maintains that a verdict by the full court alone can bring the country out of the prevailing constitutional and political crisis. The alliance has announced that it would otherwise observe a black day and launch a public campaign against the bench’s decision.

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The country is passing through one of the worst economic crises of its history. The government needs to fully concentrate on dealing with it. The PDM cannot afford to initiate any agitation. There is a need on the part of the judiciary also to pay heed to the demand for a full court, which enjoys the support of the lawyers organisations also.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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