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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Judicial Commission of Pakistan recommends Babar Sattar as judge of IHC

Justice Athar Minallah had recommended the names of Babar Sattar and Tariq Jahangiri for the appointment of the IHC judges.

The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) has recommended Babar Sattar as judge of the Islamabad High Court.

Notably, the JCP chairman — Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed — has formed a subcommittee to verify the credentials of two nominees who are recommended to be appointed to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) as additional judges. Justice Gulzar was summoned a meeting on December 3 (today) to consider the nomination of Babar Sattar and Tariq Jahangiri. Their names were proposed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah.

Sattar’s nomination was being seen as a controversial development because of his stance on some issues in the country.

The Express Tribune reported that the subcommittee comprises four JCP members to examine the credentials, integrity, and reputation of both the nominees.

It is presided over by Supreme Court judge Umar Ata Bandial and includes IHC judge Amir Farooq, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan, and Islamabad Bar Council representative Qazi Rafeeuddin Babar.

The newspaper also reported that the subcommittee has already held a meeting three days ago to examine the available record related to both the nominees. Under its rules, the JCP chairman is empowered to form subcommittees to review nominees for judicial positions. Later these committees present their opinion to the JCP for its consideration.

One member of the JCP said the formation of a committee is nothing extraordinary as the chairman always constitutes such committees to examine credentials of nominees as well as to review the performance of the existing additional judges for their confirmation.

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It is important to note that prior to the 18th amendment, for the appointment of judges in the High Courts, the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court forwarded a panel to the President which was channeled through the Governor of the Province and the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The pivotal role in the process was that of the Chief Justice of Pakistan as well as the provincial Chief Justices.

In the famous 1996 ‘Judges’ Case’, the Supreme Court further curtailed the executive discretion of the President, almost to the point of making it entirely ineffectual. The Court held that the recommendations of the Chief Justice were ordinarily binding on the President, except where the President departed from the recommendations, in which case the reasons for his decision were justiciable, reported LUMS Law Journal.

However, after the 18th amendment, the CJ of the respective courts after consultation with the senior-most judge recommends names for the appointment of the judges. The JCP then gives its recommendation.

“Security establishment is not happy”

Some sources said the security establishment has expressed serious concern over the nomination of renowned lawyer Babar Sattar. Sattar has remained vocal on issues related to civil liberties and civilian rule in the country. Some people also object to his nomination on the grounds that he mostly lives abroad.


Sindh High Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Salahuddin Ahmed said if the JCP rejects Babar Sattar, it will seriously damage the judiciary’s credibility “as Sattar is one of the most qualified and upright advocates to be ever chosen for elevation as a judge”.

In 2018, Sattar told The Guardian that “first we used to have missing persons, now we have missing TV channels”. “Just like with missing persons, everyone knows who the culprit is but saying it out loud would get you into even more trouble,” he added.

Sattar also announced that The News, a daily newspaper owned by Jang Group, the same media house that owns Geo, would not be publishing his column because it was “ordered not to touch sensitive topics”.

Political commentators are of the view that since Sattar is known for his activism and anti-establishment narrative, it would be unwise to have him in the court as a judge. “A judge must be a neutral person without having any political agenda,” said a lawyer who happened to be unhappy over Sattar’s nomination.

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The other nominee Tariq Jahangiri served as Islamabad Advocate General between 2017-18. He also worked as deputy attorney general for Pakistan from 2011 to 2013 and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi/Islamabad Region deputy prosecutor general from 2009 to 2010. Jahangiri was elected as the president of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association in 2016.