ISLAMABAD, Nov 8: The issue of appointment of Chief Justice Islamabad High Court (IHC) has generated a fresh tussle between the government and the superior judiciary.
The Judicial Commission, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had recommended the name of Justice Anwar Kasi for the slot of chief justice IHC, as the incumbent chief justice of IHC Iqbal Hameedur Rehman had been elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court.
However, President Asif Ali Zardari rejected the summary of Justice Kasi and declared another judge of the IHC, Justice Riaz as he was the senior most judge and thus capable of becoming the chief justice.
“The president followed the constitution and declared that the judge who is senior most should be appointed as chief justice Islamabad High Court,” said president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar.
He said that under the constitution the president could disapprove any recommendation of the Judicial Commission.
However, some legal experts believed that the office of the president was a ceremonial one in this context and he could only send back the summary after signing it.
However, some said the president had taken the right decision because a faulty summary was presented before him.
The Judicial Commission, under the chair of Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and Parliamentary Committee had approved the appointment of Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman as a Supreme Court judge and Justice Kasi as the IHC chief justice. Now both these appointments have been delayed.
However Law Minister Farooq H Naek, who is a member of the Judicial Commission, told a private TV channel that his ministry had sent a summary to the president that Justice Riaz was senior to Justice Kasi by age, so the president declared Justice Riaz as senior and sent back the summary about the notification of Justice Kasi as the IHC chief justice.
Justice (retired) Shaiq Usmani, a legal expert, said president had no option but to disapprove the summary of the Judicial Commission. He, however, held responsible the law ministry for not informing the Judicial Commission about the age factor of the judges of IHC prior to its recommendations which are first sent to the parliamentary commission on appointment of judges and presidency via the prime minister secretariat.
He feared that the issue of appointment of chief justice IHC could spark a similar clash between the government and the judiciary which was experienced over the National Reconciliation Ordinance in the country.
It is expected that the law ministry will again prepare a summary and will send it to the Judicial Commission and then it will land in the Presidency via Prime Minister Secretariat for a final nod.