Ch. Shujaat is Chief Selector
February 11, 2011
Despite multiple precautions, incorporated through the 18th and 19th Amendments, the appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court and the High Courts stand thoroughly politicized. By information leaking from the Committee Room, the nomination of Mr. Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali was strongly supported by PML(N) but still rejected by the Committee by three-fourth majority of its membership. The published reports have given no hint as to why PML (N) was so particular about a judge who was described as a “status conscious” person who “moves in ultra modern circle”. The Commission was told that he happened to be a “Slow Worker” who was “Shy of giving due relief”. His behavior with public was gauged by the Commission as “Indifferent” yet both the Commission and the PML (N) insisted on retaining him in Lahore High Court. However Pakistan Peoples Party and PML (Q) trumped his judicial career once for all.
Mr. Yawar Ali happens to be the son former Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice (R) Yaqoob Ali Khan but that was not the prime consideration for PML (N) although his upbringing may have been positively considered by the Commission. It may be noted that Justice Yaqoob Ali had been appointed CJP by the Bhutto Government on the retirement of Justice Hamood-ur-Rehman yet the PPP has dropped his son for reasons unknown to the public. Under the 19th Amendment the reasons, recorded by the Committee, shall be forwarded to the Commission through the Prime Minister and there upon the Commission “shall send another nomination”.
Youngsters in the media are unable to sift the information leaking from the Committee Room and the Leader of Opposition, simultaneously, is now questioning the procedure spelt out in the 19th Amendment. With just another member on the Committee, the PML(N) would have won a permanent seat for Yawar Ali because its rivals won’t have the three-fourth majority required to reject the nomination. In the latest round of appointment game, six MPs have outplayed five serving judges of the apex Court, a retired judge of that Court plus the Chief Justice and the senior most judge of the High Court. That makes a total of eight judges and Online has no definite information about their votes/views. But if a political party has barely three members on the Committee, it can give an edge to the Commission over the Parliamentary Committee. Remember the Commission nominates a judge by simple majority while Committee can’t reject a nomination unless 6 of its 8 members so prefer.
Under the 19th Amendment the Committee is to hold proceedings “in camera” and, unlike the two Houses, the members are not under any restriction to discuss the conduct of judges in the discharge of their duties. But the desired secrecy could not be ensured. As for the Judicial Commission, the proforma of Mr. Yawar Ali was retrieved by Online from a garbage dump. His status is summed up as follows: “Below average also very rude to lawyers. Court is being run by his staff.” A similar note about Mr. Justice Ch. Shahid Saeed reads: “Looks after lands in Toba Tek Singh of a judge and meets people in chambers and asks for favours. Incompetent too” The judge with agricultural holdings in Toba Tek Singh has not been identified in black & white but would be known to both the Commission and the Committee.
The intriguing remarks about judges seem to be the pen work of a resentful lawyer although the Parliamentary Committee reportedly did receive some intelligence reports as well. Whether the Committee and the Commission did share the intelligence is not confirmed but the proforma of Yawar Ali does raise eye brows. There was no difference of opinion in the Committee on dropping Mazhair Ali Naqvi, Mamoon Rashid and Farrukh Irfan for none of them, unlike Yawar Ali, had a connection in the apex Court and an inter-related soft corner in PML (N).
Readers shall have to wait until the latest appointments are formally notified by the President. But as for the present, instead of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Ch. Shujaat Hussain actually holds the ace of trump in the appointment game. PML (Q) Leader has emerged as the Chief Selector because both PPP and PML(N) can’t make a decisive move without his vote. And that is quite frustrating for the Leader of Opposition.