ISLAMABAD: The two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, has recommended Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali to form a larger bench for deciding a question about the consultation process with the chief justice in the appointment of drug court chairman.
The bench has granted leave of the federal government’s appeal against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) April 15 verdict regarding the suspension of a notification on the appointment of drug court chief.
Earlier, the law ministry had requested the SHC to forward a panel of candidates for the appointment of drug court head, following which the court sent in three nominations for the said post on April 6.
On April 8, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the appointment of Khalid Mumtaz as chairman, who was the second option in the list.
However, the SHC registrar on April 14 put up a note before the chief justice, stating that Sofia Latif, a retired district and sessions judge, was nominated for the post of chairperson drug court, but the law ministry notified Mumtaz for the position.
After the request was filed, the SHC chief justice directed the note be converted into a constitutional petition and fixed it before the high court’s division bench-II. On the following day, the division bench of the high court suspended the notification.
The law ministry, in its petition, contended that the high court does not have any jurisdiction to issue a writ exercising suo motu powers while there was neither any warrant nor anyone who challenged the appointment of Mumtaz.
Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt along with Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood appeared on behalf of the federal government before the bench on Thursday.
The AGP contended that neither the drug court Act nor the Constitution provide consultation of chief justice regarding the appointment of chairmen drug court, adding that consultation with CJP is not binding.
However, Justice Qazi Faez Isa said that drug court is a judicial forum and the chairmen do the same judicial work. “What is the problem in consultation with the chief justice in the appointment process,” he questioned.
The AGP replied that it is a legal issue, therefore, larger bench should be constituted to decide it.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2015.