Lawyers want early disposal of reference against IHC CJ

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution demanding the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) decide a reference against the incumbent chief justice of the IHC for making ‘illegal’ appointments.

A resolution signed by 505 members of the IHCBA was tabled during the general body meeting of the association by its secretary general Mohammad Waqas Malik.

The resolution asked the IHC chief justice, Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi, to follow the footstep of his predecessor Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman who resigned from the Supreme Court after the apex court in its judgment of September 26 pointed out that the appointments made during the tenure of Justice Rehman and Justice Kasi in the IHC were illegal.

Mr Rehman was the chief justice of the IHC till 2012 when he was elevated to the Supreme Court. Following the Sept 26 judgment, the IHCBA secretary general filed a reference against Justice Rehman and Justice Kasi with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

Reference filed before SJC after SC declared scores of IHC appointments illegal

The resolution demanded the SJC decide the reference at the earliest else the lawyers would start a series of protests.

Last month, senior lawyer Asma Jahangir also demanded that the SJC should decide the two cases against the judges facing charges of making illegal appointments. She said since the apex court had already declared these appointments illegal, Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali, who also heads the SJC, should decide the references before his retirement due on December 31.

Surprisingly, when the lawyers were speaking on the resolution, IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui entered the barroom and sought permission to address the bar.

The organisers invited him to address the lawyers in his capacity as a former president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association Rawalpindi division. Justice Siddiqui said after filing the reference against Justice Kasi, the complainant had done his job. Now it is the SJC to make a decision on the reference, he added.

Disagreeing with the lawyers demand for the immediate resignation or suspension of the IHC chief justice, Justice Siddiqui said, “Don’t you think it is the right of Justice Kasi to defend himself before the SJC and contest the allegations?”

When Justice Siddiqui left the venue, the lawyers changed the topic and started discussing the sudden appearance of the judge.

Some lawyers expressed reservations over the address of the judge at a meeting which had been convened to evolve a course of action subsequent to the Sept 26 judgment which declared scores of appointments made in the IHC since 2011 as illegal.

According to the IHCBA secretary general, former IHC chief justice Rehman made most of the illegal appointments and in the same way the incumbent the CJ also appointed Usman Mir, a son of his friend in BPS-18.

As per the Supreme Court verdict of Sept 26, Mir was working in a private bank and “was appointed on deputation after the promulgation of the Islamabad High Court Rules. Furthermore, the chief justice’s power to relax the rules under Rule 16 of the rules only permits for such leniency where undue hardship exists. The illegality in appointing a credit analyst from a bank to the post of assistant registrar on deputation was in disregard of the applicable rules.”

The Supreme Court also declared the appointment of Mir’s sister in BPS-17 as illegal. However, his brother-in-law is still working in the district and sessions court in BPS-17, said the secretary general of the IHCBA.

Plea seeking implementation on SC verdict

Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb of the IHC on Thursday issued notices to the IHC registrar, additional registrars and other senior officials on a petition seeking the implementation of the SC order against illegal appointments and out-of-turn promotions.

The petition, filed by Rana Abid Nazir advocate, requested the court to take action against the IHC officials for not placing certain record related to the out-of-turn promotions before the three-judge committee constituted by the SC to examine the appointments and promotions.

The hearing of the matter was adjourned till November 28.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2016

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