Presidential reference raises set of questions

ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday signed the reference on the issue of appointment of superior court judges that will be filed on his behalf by the law minister on Friday (today).The move comes after the government decided to file a reference in the case pertaining to the extension in tenure of two additional judges of the Islamabad High Court. In response to a petition of Advocate Nadeem Ahmed seeking issuance of a notification about extension for Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi and permanent appointment of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC, the attorney general, on November 23, conveyed to a four-judge apex court bench that the federation intended to file a reference in the case. According to sources, the reference contains a set of questions for the Supreme Court including the power of the president to appoint judges of the superior judiciary.On October 22, the judicial commission recommended the permanent appointment of Additional Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and a six-month extension in the tenure of Noorul Haq Qureshi. The nominations were approved by the parliamentary committee under Article 175A inserted in the Constitution under the 18th and 19th Amendments.The judges’ terms expired on November 20 after the president returned the recommendations to the judicial commission, with an observation to reconsider the nominations.The law ministry did not issue any notification for extension in the tenure of the said judges and the matter was pending with the Supreme Court for adjudication.TheNation Monitoring adds: President Asif Ali Zardari has inked a presidential reference seeking guideline from the Supreme Court over the procedure of appointment of judges, reported a private television on Thursday.According to Law Minister Farooq Naek, the president has asked for the advice from the apex court under the Article 186 of the Constitution. The minister said the reference contained 13 questions relating to the appointment of judges in the superior judiciary, with a specific reference to the Islamabad High Court. The reference asked for guidance over the role of the judicial commission, parliamentary committee and the seniority of judges, he said.According to the television, the 13 questions are related to the role of judicial commission and a bipartisan parliamentary committee in the appointment of judges.Naek said the apex court’s opinion had been sought under Section 186 of the Constitution.It may be noted here that a four-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Khilji Arif granted two-week time on November 23, 2012 to Attorney General Irfan Qadir for filing a presidential reference in the apex court. The time granted by the court would expire on December 7. The case took a new turn on November 23, after the attorney general informed the court that the government wanted to file a presidential reference. Analysts regarded it as a smart move by the government to invoke the court’s advisory jurisdiction to settle, once and for all, the issues relating to the appointment of superior court judges.Questioning the composition of the judicial commission on judges’ appointments, he had sought two-week time from the Supreme Court for filing the presidential reference, citing the need of seeking legal opinion on all issues related to appointments of superior courts’ judges.The reference, according to sources, would ask the Supreme Court what power the president enjoyed in selection of judges and whether the president needed to apply his mind or just endorse whatever recommendation he received.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt