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Appointment of ATC judges: Punjab fails to convince CJ for in-chamber hearing, list of judges’ panel

By Malik Ashraf

May 17, 2024 06:55 PM


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Punjab Government’s Cabinet committee failed to convince Chief Justice Lahore High Court Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmed Khan during the hearing of the case regarding the appointment of judges in anti-terrorism courts of the province, reported 214NewsHD TV channel.

While categorically rejecting the Cabinet committee’s demand of providing a list of the judges, LHC Chief Justice directed the committee, which was assigned the task to approve the names of the judges, to submit compliance report on May 20, 2024. Punjab Law Minister Sohaib Ahmed, Senior Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman personally appeared in the court and requested the Chief Justice to hear case in the chamber which was refused by the court.

On the occasion Advocate General Punjab Khalid Ishaq told Chief Justice that meaningful negotiations was a legal procedure and a panel of three judges is sent by the Chief Justice Lahore High Court to the government for the appointment of special court judges. On this the Chief Justice asked the AGP where is written in the law that the Chief Justice will send a panel for the judges. The Advocate General replied that although it was not an absolute rule, it was generally the case in the past. AGP again requested that the Chief Justice should send a panel of names of three or four judges for the appointments. Meanwhile, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman also requested the court to provide a panel of three or four judges to decide on their appointments.

LHC chief Justice remarked that where it is written in the law that Chief Justice was liable to send the names? Justice Shahzad said that the “court was not bound to follow any course of action which is illegal to follow”. Chief Justice further remarked that all parliamentarians were respectful to this court and several decisions of this court were in favor of parliamentarians. Senior Provincial Minister told the court that the Punjab government had established a committee. She requested the court to hear the matter in chambers. Marriyum further added that she had no objection to the nomination of the names of the judges and only requested for meaningful negotiations.

The Chief Justice made it clear to Marriyum Aurangzeb, “whatever you have to say please utter in the open court”. On the occasion the Law Minister and the Advocate General repeated the request to the CJ to provide a panel of judges, then Chief Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan remarked, “I am not providing a panel, the law does not allow it”.

LHC Chief Justice said, “Now it is up to the government to express in the open court if they have any objection to these judges”.

Maryam Aurangzeb told the court that “last week this matter was put up in the cabinet meeting and a committee was formed which appeared in the court today”. CJ Malik Shahzad remarked that “a committee or commission is formed on the issues where a decision is not required. According to the law, the government has to take a decision within seven days to appoint the judges of the special court”.

Law Minister said that if the Chief Justice sends a panel of 2, 3 or 4 judges, the govt will be able to finalize the names soon. The court remarked that “there was no law which made it mandatory for the Chief Justice to send the names of the panel. If there is any such law, let the govt inform the court”. Law Minister added that this was a practice. Citing an example, the court said that if a drug dealer seeks permission to sell drugs, he will not be allowed if he is selling to others. Later Maryam Aurangzeb asked the court to give some time to the committee for consultation.

On the request of Marriyum Aurangzeb, the court gave the cabinet committee till May 20 for a meaningful consultation regarding the appointment of special court judges.

 

Reporter: Malik Ashraf


Malik Ashraf

Malik Muhammad Ashraf Khokhar is a senior court reporter with City News Network. He has been associated with the group since 2011 and primarily covers news related to the Supreme Court, and the judicial and administrative affairs of the Lahore High Court.


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