Moving towards reconciliation

Chief Justice (CJ) of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry chaired the first meeting of the Judicial Commission set up under the 18th Amendment, on Saturday. CJ Chaudhry, being the chairman of the commission, approved its rules and regulations. The commission includes Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) nominee Dr Khalid Ranjha, federal law minister Babar Awan and attorney general Justice (retd) Maulvi Anwarul Haq. Among others, the meeting was attended by the CJ of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), 25 representatives of the FSC and the four High Courts. Justice Jan could not attend the meeting as he was not in Pakistan. This is a welcome development considering that many pundits have been predicting a clash of institutions — the executive versus the judiciary — for quite some time now.
Last month the Supreme Court (SC) had given an interim judgement in the 18th Amendment case whereby it had referred Article 175-A to parliament for reconsideration. The said Article pertains to the appointment of judges to the SC, High Courts and the FSC. It remains to be seen what parliament will do about it but judging from Babar Awan’s ‘hint’ that the government intends to table a 19th Amendment Bill, it seems that the anomalies mentioned by the judiciary vis-à-vis the Judicial Commission will be reviewed by Raza Rabbani’s committee and parliament may either accept what has been suggested by the SC verdict or reject it. In either case, the SC will have the final say when the hearing of the case reopens in January 2011.

The proposed commission in the 18th Amendment has broadened the consultative process in the appointment of judges. In the past, some judicial appointments were deemed controversial because only the executive and the chief justices were involved in the process. The legal and technical side of the appointments will still be reviewed by the CJ of Pakistan while parliament’s role was only introduced to examine the appointees’ character and credibility to make the appointments non-controversial. The appointments would now be based on merit rather than for anyone’s political or personal connections.It is hoped that the matter of judicial appointments is sorted out soon so that the two arms of the state — the executive and the judiciary — work together for the greater good of the country – Dailytimes