IHC judges appointment delay: Contempt proceedings sought against president
ISLAMABAD, Jan 8: With the government still weighing options to move a review petition against the Dec 21 order asking it to notify the appointment of two Islamabad High Court judges, the Supreme Court received on Tuesday a petition seeking contempt proceedings against the president, prime minister and law minister for resisting the appointment.
Moved by Advocate Akram Sheikh on behalf of Advocate Nadeem Ahmed, the petition requested the court to initiate contempt proceedings against President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Law Minister Farooq H. Naek and Law Secretary Yasmin Abbasey for wilful disobedience by not issuing notifications to appoint Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui as a regular judge and Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi as additional judge for six months.
On Dec 21, a five-judge bench had asked the president to appoint the two judges in line with the Sept 22 recommendation of the Judicial Commission (JC) which was also approved by the Parliamentary Committee (PC).
But instead of handing down its opinion on a presidential reference, the apex court had issued an order on a petition also moved by Advocate Nadeem to the competent authority to notify the appointment of the two judges.
Consequently, the law ministry had on Dec 26 sent a summary to the prime minister for the issuance of the notification about the appointment.
The petitioner also requested the court to initiate proceedings against the respondents under Article 6 of the Constitution, read with provisions of the High Treason Punishment Act 1973.
“Although the president enjoys limited immunity from criminal prosecution under Article 248(2) of the Constitution, contempt proceedings can be initiated against him since contempt proceedings in stricto senso are not proceedings of criminal nature,” the petition said. It added: “Since the respondents are not implementing the orders with malicious intent, impleading him as a respondent is mandatory in terms of the law declared by the Supreme Court in the 1990 Aman Ullah Khan case.”
Advocate Nadeem contended that conduct of the respondents required issuance of show-cause notices asking them why action should not be taken against them for causing obstruction to justice and wilfully flouting the judgment of the august court as well as the constitutional process for more than two months from the unanimous approval by the PC.
Even if the summary was to be treated as advice in terms of Article 48 of the Constitution, the time for taking action by the president was not more than 10 days, he said.
The petitioner requested the court to order the law secretary to issue the notification in terms of the law to protect the fundamental rights of consumers of justice to enable them to have an unimpeded access to the IHC.
As an alternative, the petition said, the court should withdraw the short order it had given on a set of challenges to the 18th Amendment regarding the functioning of incumbent procedure about the appointment of judges in view of Article 175-A and restoring the earlier procedure on the appointment of judges which was prevalent after the Al Jihad Trust case.