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EDITORIAL: Disagreements are expected to arise when two or more people discuss a certain issue, but how they handle difference of opinion is another matter, especially if those involved are members of the nation’s highest judicial forum.

Unfortunately, the difference of opinion that emerged at the July 28 meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) between Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, who also chairs the Commission and several of its members over the elevation of some high courts judges to the apex court, has led to unpleasant exchanges in the public domain.

Soon after that meeting, senior puisne Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood wrote a letter, made available to the media, saying the meeting had disapproved the CJP’s nominations.

They have now written another letter addressed to all JCP members, taking issue with the CJP’s speech he delivered at the commencement of the new judicial year ceremony, contending that he “said much more” than he was supposed to say at the event. The letter, too, in our humble opinion, says much more than should have been said about the responsibilities and role of the institution’s administrative head, so to speak.

However, the two learned judges, in our opinion, seem to have a point where they raise the concern whether judges should commend themselves for the number of cases decided “when more than a third of the Supreme Court lies vacant”, adding that a “full court would undoubtedly have decided far more cases”.

The letter goes on to claim that Justice Bandial was repeatedly urged to convene a fresh meeting of the JCP — both before and after the notified summer vacations — to enable making of the nominations to the Supreme Court, but to no avail.

The learned judges also felt obligated to have it publicised “since it pertained to the honourable CJP’s address which was widely reported”. The CJP in his speech had talked about the workings and decisions of the JCP, expressing his displeasure over rejection of the candidates proposed by him as the JCP Chairman, for which he laid the blame on representatives of the federal government.

It is with utmost respect and humility that we dare to suggest that public disputation among the honourable judges over administrative or other matters does not sit well with the image of the august court and the high esteem that it commands.

Members of this court of last resort, of course, best understand the rights and wrongs of the issues that they are regularly called upon to settle. They surely can easily resolve their disagreements within the confines of the august chamber that they inhabit. That the higher judiciary in any country is last bastion of hope is a fact.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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