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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice further discussed the constitutional amendment to Article 175A of the Constitution, which deals with the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court (SC), high courts, and the Federal Shariat Court but some of the members of the committee opposed composition of the initiation committee proposed in the bill.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Syed Ali Zafer and held a discussion on the initiation committee proposed in Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2022 substitution of article 175A of the constitution moved by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Farooq Hamid Naek.

The amendment proposed that there would be an Initiation Committee which would initiate the nomination of judges of the High Courts for consideration by the Judicial Committee and the Parliamentary Committee. The initiation committee would consist of chief justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC), the most senior judge of the high court, an advocate general, and a senior lawyer.

Senator Kamran Murtaza said that he opposed the amendment related to the initiation committee as it will further deteriorate the system instead of ensuring merit in the appointment of judges.

Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah said that the whole judicial system has been politicized. Our bar associations have also been polluted with politics, he said, adding that how can we minimize the political affiliation of the higher judiciary? How can a committee comprised of an advocate general maintain merit, he questioned?

Zafar, while opposing the initiation committee, said that the matter of nomination should be left to the discretion of the chief justice of Pakistan and the relevant judges of the High Courts because their nominations can be considered or rejected first by the Judicial Committee and then by the Parliamentary Committee and there was no need to add a third-tier which would only complicate the matter.

Senator Azam Swati said that our judicial system has been completely destroyed. We need to make efforts to streamline the system, he said, adding that our judicial system is totally redundant for the common man.

Naek said that there is no procedure for the nomination of judges, and judges do it at their own discretion. The initiation committee consists of all the stakeholders, he said, adding that currently, the government did not know about the appointment of judges. “This amendment will not benefit a single person but it has moved for the benefit (of the) whole institution”, he said.

The committee also discussed the establishment of the office of Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Amendment Bill, 2022 moved by Senator Mohammad Abdul Qadir seeking the establishment of ombudsman office in every district.

Justice Muhammad Raza Khan (retired) while briefing the committee said that currently, the total number of ombudsman regional offices is 16. He said that setting up of ombudsman office in every district is not financially viable as it would require huge funds. The ombudsman sets up its regional office in the district or area where it receives more than 1,000 complaints in a year, he said, adding that now people can also lodge their complaints online as well as ombudsmen have established an App; therefore, there is no need of establishment of more offices. The committee expressed satisfaction over the briefing of the ombudsmen and asked the mover to withdraw its bill.

The meeting was also attended by State Minister for Law and Justice Malik Shahadat Awan, a senior official of the Ministry of Law and Justice, and ombudsmen.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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