SHC judges: Comments sought on pleas against PC decision
KARACHI, Feb 16: The Sindh High Court on Saturday directed the Parliamentary Committee (PC) on judges appointment and the federal law secretary to file their respective comments in three more identical petitions challenging the PC’s decision to not confirm two SHC judges.
A division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar also issued a notice to the Attorney General for Pakistan and put off the hearing to Feb 19.
Earlier on Friday, the same bench issued notices to the respondents in an identical petition filed by the Sindh High Court Bar Association through its President Mustafa Lakhani.
Three more identical petitions were filed by the SHCBA Sukkur chapter, represented by Advocate Raheed A. Razvi, former SHCBA president Anwar Mansoor Khan and Munir A. Malik along with other petitioners — Advocates Mushtaq A. Memon, Muhammed Naeem ur Rehman, Abbas Ali and Mansoor Alam.
Impleading the federal law secretary and the PC, the four petitioners prayed to the court to declare the PC decision illegal and direct the respondent to issue a notification for the confirmation of Justices Nadeem Akhtar and Muhammad Shafi Siddiqui on a permanent basis.
The petitioners stated that the two judges were appointed additional judges in March 2012 for the period of one year and the Judicial Commission (JC) gave recommendations for their confirmation as permanent judges.
However, they submitted that the PC on Feb 2 declared the two judges tax defaulters and dropped their names from the list of the confirmed judges.
They said that the PC decision was illegal as it was taken without conducting any investigation into the matter.
Advocate Muneer A. Malik submitted that the two judges worked diligently, honestly and competently throughout their tenure.
He said that the PC met on Feb 7, 2013 for consideration of recommendations of the JC in respect of the confirmation of three judges.
He said that the PC recommended only Justice Nisar A. Shaikh for confirmation, but the names of two judges were dropped in disregard of the recommendation of the JC.
It was submitted in the petitions that the PC on Feb 11, 2013 dropped the names of the two judges without issuing any show-cause notice and giving any plausible or proper reasons for disagreeing with the JC’s recommendations in this regard.
The counsel submitted that even otherwise at the time of nomination of these judges in March 2012 all the material, including the tax returns, was examined by the PC that agreed to the nomination and appointment as additional judges of the SHC for one year.
They stated that the factual position was that the income tax returns had been filed and were also available on the record of the PC.
The counsel stated that the PC observations were totally uncalled-for, baseless, defamatory and mala fide and were tantamount to undermining the independence of the judiciary by intentionally scandalising the two judges in the process of the entire judicial commission. More so, they added, the PC did not raise such objection at the time of their nomination in March 2012.
The petitioners stated that the two judges had disclosed their income in their income tax returns before their appointment as additional judges.
They stated that no plausible and cogent reasons were given by the PC for rejecting the names of the two judges for confirmation except for what was reported in the print and electronic media about them regarding their being allegedly tax defaulters.The counsel stated that the PC could not have overturned the recommendations of the JC except upon proper reasons once the JC recommended the names of the two judges.
The petitioners prayed to the court to declare the PC decision to be completely without jurisdiction, void ab-initio and liable to be cancelled as the two judges paid their taxes.
They also prayed to the court to direct the relevant authorities to issue a necessary notification for the confirmation of the two judges with effect from March 3, 2012.
The bench issued notices to the federal law secretary, the PC and the Attorney General for Pakistan and adjourned the hearing to Feb 19.
The bench also ordered the office to club together the four identical petitions and placed them before another division bench as Justice Baqar was also a member of the JC.