Extension to undermine judiciary's independence: Asma

ISLAMABAD - President Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir has said that the extension to additional judges office of the high courts has undermined the independence of judiciary. The president SCBA on Friday also stated that three extensions dropped by the Judicial Commission sent a poor message - a woman and member of the minority were made exceptions. Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) on December 04 had proposed Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman, judge of Lahore High Court, for his appointment as the chief justice of Islamabad High Court and Anwar Kansi and Riaz Khan as judges of the IHC, and have also agreed to extend the tenure of four additional judges of the Balochistan High Court and six judges of Sindh High Court. However, cases of Justice Bhajandas Dejwani and Justice Rukhsana Ahmed were deferred till the next meeting. The legal experts say that this is the beginning of tussle between judiciary and legal community. The SCBA president in a written statement, given to media persons at the Supreme Court premises, has expressed concern over the large number of enforced disappearances and urged the Government to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. By implementing the Convention, the Govt will be able to express its commitment to establish the truth about enforced disappearances, punish perpetrators, provide reparations to the victims and their families and to put an end to this practice, she said. She has noted that the disappearance of persons by the security forces has re-emerged after a short spell of reducing this practice dramatically. The commission of missing persons has simply remained ineffective and perhaps not comprehended the serious role that they were playing in recording evidence of those who were tortured during their period in arbitrary detention. The commission could not inspire the confidence of victims and is now reduced to redundancy. The Government has not fulfilled its promise on legal reforms. The jurisdiction of ordinary courts has neither been extended to FATA nor area fundamental rights available to the people living there, who continue to suffer the rigours of the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation. Democratic transition will remain stagnant unless peoples rights, security and dignity are not protected. The courts too will not be able to truly claim an independent character unless they are able to deliver justice to the victims and ensure that perpetrators are not granted impunity owning to gaps within the judicial system. The trial courts are overloaded and are desperately dealing with backlog. More than 1.3 million cases are pending in the subordinate courts. Grant of bail has been toughened for an ordinary prisoner who has no clout or nuisance value. The SCBA president said according to some estimates there are 2,800 people in illegal confinement in Swat alone who have not been produced before a court in more than a year. Other issues that are deeply worrying are the setting up of 'concentration camps for the militants families, the destruction of houses of the alleged militants and the creation of private militias.

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