ISLAMABAD - Senate Special Committee on Law Reforms Thursday decided to seek views from the Ministry of Law and other relevant stakeholders to change the existing mechanism for accountability of judges in the superior judiciary.

The committee that met under the chair of Pakistan People’s Party Senator (PPP) Farook H Naek sought from the law ministry to propose whether a constitutional amendment could be proposed to change existing mechanism for accountability of judges. Article 209 of the Constitution provides mechanism for accountability of judges of the superior judiciary. Article 209(6) of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to recommend the removal of any judge who is “incapable of performing the duties of his office or has been guilty of misconduct” 

The committee said that Article 209 should be made more open, and effective while involving the parliament in the light of best international practices. A lawmaker proposed that the parliament should have a role in the mechanism for accountability of judges. However, the committee was of the view that the proposal needs a lengthy consultative process with all the stakeholders including bar associations, bar councils, senior lawyers, and retired judges of the superior judiciary. 

The committee decided that it will consult former judges, and representatives of bar councils, associations as it does not want to “propose the new legislation in haste.” 

The senators agreed to adopt a mechanism for consultations with all the stakeholders to make solid recommendations on the issue. They emphasized the need that best mechanisms exist in the world to hold the judges of superior judiciary accountable and there was need to take benefit of these best international practices adopted by different countries. They underscored that there is need to strengthen the checks and balance mechanisms for the accountability of judiciary in the light of Article 175-A, and Article 209 of the Constitution.   

Article 175-A deals with the appointment of judges of Supreme Court, high courts and of the Federal Shariat Court. 

Senator Farooq H Naek, the Convener of the Committee, told the members that the Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of Judges had once prepared a draft bill asking for strengthening mechanism for accountability of judges. He said that the committee had diligently worked on the draft bill that had been handed over to then Law Minister Zahid Hamid. The committee sought from the law ministry to inform the status of that draft bill. 

Senators Javed Abbasi, Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Anwarul Haq Kakar, Muhammad Ali Khan Saif and senior officials of the Ministry of law and Justice attended the meeting. Raja Inam Amin Minhas, a senior lawyer, also participated in the meeting as an expert.