The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition against the appointment of Justice Qazi Faez Isa as chief justice of the Balochistan High Court (BHC) and his elevation to the apex court.
The petition, filed by Advocate Riaz Hanif Rahi, had argued that there exists no provision in the Constitution for direct appointment of the chief justice of a province and the guidance provided in Articles 196 and 200 of the Constitution was not followed (in Justice Isa’s case).
The complainant informed the court that according to Article 193 of the Constitution, it is the constitutional duty of the governor to take advice from the chief minister before appointing a high court judge. He further stated that at the time of Justice Isa’s appointment, an acting governor was holding office.
“Your arguments are not related [to the case],” Justice Nisar remarked.
The complainant also failed to provide any proofs of a lack of consultation between the acting governor and the chief minister.
The court also rejected the petitioner’s request to give him more time for preparation as the court is hearing multiple petitions filed by him.
Later, Barrister Ali Zafar, representing the Lahore High Court Bar Association, began his arguments by saying that the procedure of appointment of judges should be transparent. There are examples of removal of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) chairman and even parliamentarians, he said, adding that accountability should happen without discrimination.
He contended that Justice Isa’s appointment to BHC was illegal as a judge should have been appointed to the court before the appointment of the chief justice after all of the judges at the court had been removed following a 2009 SC decision regarding the removal of judges who took oath under Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).
“How would a judge be appointed without there being a chief justice?” Justice Nisar asked, explaining that according to Al-Jihad case, an acting chief justice does not have the authority to appoint a judge.
“Considering the situation, what irregularity happened?” the CJP asked.
The court then dismissed the petition, informing that a detailed verdict would be issued later.
‘Earlier on April 2, a joint meeting of the Balochistan Bar Council, Balochistan High Court Bar Association and Quetta Bar Association adopted a resolution to express their concern over the sudden hearing of what they said a “dead petition” against Justice Isa.
The resolution stated that the legal fraternity of Balochistan expressed serious concern over the proceedings in the dead case against Justice Isa and cautioned that if the proceedings were not halted immediately, they would lodge a protest in coordination with other associations of lawyers across the country.
Also, the Sindh Bar Council had expressed concern over the issue and asked if the recent emergency of the petition challenging the appointment of Justice Isa was a mere coincidence or an attempt by non-democratic forces to intimidate independent judges. The SBC wondered if the sudden hearing of the petition was linked to Justice Isa’s report in the Quetta carnage case and his remarks in Faizabad sit-in case about the performance of intelligence agencies and other state functionaries.