ISLAMABAD - Justice Qazi Faez Isa, senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court, on Monday took strong exception to the summoning of the Judicial Commission of Paki­stan (JCP) meeting without in­forming him.

In a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial and copied it to the SC Registrar with the di­rection to print this message and immediately deliver to all the JCP members.

Justice Faez in his letter said, “I learnt, through the media, that two meetings of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) have been called for the 28 and 29 June to consider the nom­inees to the Sindh High Court (SHC) and of the confirmation of the additional judges of La­hore High Court (LHC). Neither the Chief Justice of Pakistan nor Jawad Paul, the Secretary of the JCP informed me of these meet­ings.”

He said, “My Private Secretary took photos of the Secretary’s letters which he WhatsApped me, and photos of the accom­panying 3 large boxes of docu­ments, presumably containing the particulars of the nominees and specimens of their work.”

Justice Isa maintained, “I take great exception to the manner in which these JCP meetings have been called. And, it has be­come tiresome to keep repeat­ing the details of the manipu­lative and illegal conduct of the Secretary. Serious concerns ex­pressed verbally and in writing, about the Secretary remain un­addressed; the courtesy of a re­ply is not even extended. Is this disdain, arrogance or a flaunt­ing of unaccountability? And, does such conduct strengthen and build institutions or weak­en and destroy them?”

He further wrote that when the matters are determined uni­laterally, and arbitrarily, and the Secretary cum Registrar is completely unaccountable, one may well question what legiti­macy attaches to the Supreme Court taking issue with those who similarly exercise powers in their respective domains?

He penned down 19 reasons for not calling the JCP meetings on June 28 and 29. These meet­ings could have been held earli­er, that is, when the SC was not on vacations. They can be held when vacations are over. Sim­ilarly, the SHC and the LHC are also on summer vacations.

He stated that 20 vacancies sought to be filled in did not suddenly occur. They have exist­ed for years. Where lies the sud­den need to fill them, and, to do so in such a tearing rush? The tenure of the 13 LHC addition­al judges was recently extended by 6 months. Why has this mat­ter been brought up again so soon afterwards?

In letter to CJP says it will be appropriate to postpone JCP meetings till SC vacations

Justice Faez further ques­tioned that does special treat­ment with regard to LHC incum­bents not create unnecessary misgivings? Will those in other provinces and of Islamabad not legitimately question this differ­ential treatment? And, will this provide a pretext to those who want to create fissures in the unity of the nation?

He also stated that the reason to extend the tenure of the 13 LHC additional judges was be­cause we did not have the op­portunity to examine their doc­uments contained in 2 boxes. Which now have become 4 box­es which we have not had the time to examine.

The SC judge added that is it at all reasonable to presume that JCP members have exam­ined the voluminous documents contained in a box with regard to the nominees of the SHC in a few days? And, those members on sanctioned leave and who are abroad are not given an op­portunity to examine them at all.

He wrote that the senior most judge always chairs one of the 2 committees (antecedents and competence). Why has he been denied this responsibility with regard to these nominees?

Justice Isa said that inciden­tally, I am the only judicial mem­ber of the JCP who has lived and practiced in Sindh. Then does it stand to reason to exclude me from consultation with re­gard to appointments to the SHC? And, is it not insulting that I have not been nominated to chair either of the 2 committees regarding SHC appointments?

He further said that the ugly head of provincialism and eth­nicity has raised itself because of the treatment meted out to the Chief Justice of the SHC (by the former CJP). He was by­passed by the then CJP, stating that he was not fit for appoint­ment to the Supreme Court, yet just a few days later the same CJP proposed that he be ap­pointed as an ad hoc judge of the SC. Did he become fit over­night? Or was this done to ridi­cule and humiliate him? If the CJ of a province is held in such con­tempt by the head of the institu­tion, then is it justified to punish for contempt those others who belittle judges?

Justice Faez continued that the CJ of the SHC had earlier nominated a different group, in­cluding a woman, but he with­drew the names, apparently be­cause of the pressure exerted by those pursuing an ethnic agen­da. Having undermined the au­thority of the CJ of the SHC was this unexpected?

He mentioned that when the matter of the appointment of a female judge to the SC was be­ing considered much was said by those advocating such an ap­pointment, despite the fact that it was pointed out that the to­tal number of female judges in the superior courts would re­main the same. Yet those advo­cating more female judges have so soon turned a blind eye to the fact that there is not a single fe­male amongst the 20 nominees.

He said that no effort was made to contact me and find out where I am, and to arrange for a video-link facility to enable my virtual participation. Is it then wrong to presume that the sole reason for calling these meet­ings is to ensure that I would not participate?

Justice Isa maintained that therefore, it would be appro­priate to postpone the meetings of the JCP till after the SC vaca­tions. This will also give all JCP members the possibility to par­ticipate. The letter concluded, “If we must persist in the folly of acting arbitrarily and ensuring packing of courts, then please arrange for a video link facility for me from Spain so I can fur­ther record my objections to the illegal convening of these meet­ings.”