The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) has approved the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik for her elevation to the Supreme Court. The divided JCP approved her nomination with a verdict of five to four in favor of her nomination.
The four judges opposing the nomination were Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) representative Akhtar Hussain.
The nomination of the female judge has been hailed by lawyers and activists who see it as a victory over the largely male-dominated and patriarchal system of Pakistani bureaucracy. After decades of struggles and overcoming of impediments along the way, the move secures greater representation of women and their rights in the country.
However, the nomination was not easy sailing for the female judge. Many lawyer activists rose up against the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik, favoring seniority over competence, and stated that the judge was fourth in the seniority list and hence should not be nominated for the position of a Supreme Court judge.
This is not the first time the judge faced such opposition and scrutiny. In September last year, the judicial commission of Pakistan rejected the elevation citing lack of seniority for her disqualification. However, this time, the female judge had adequate support from the Chief Justice which secured her nomination and made this feat possible.
All that now awaits is the approval of her nomination by a parliamentary committee which could lead to Justice Malik becoming the first-ever female Supreme Court judge in the history of Pakistan and even open up opportunities for her to become the first female Chief Justice of the country. If the parliamentary committee approves the nomination, the judge would remain in position till 2031.
The move was hailed by many as a step towards equal representation of women in the country’s power structures, and Aliya Hamza Malik, who is a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, touted the move as historic. She said, “This is historic and defining moment for women’s empowerment in Pakistan.” She also said, “Moreover this is view changer for world that Pakistan is promoter of women empowerment & not the opposer, as falsely propagated.”
Moreover this is view changer for world that Pakistan is promoter of women empowerment & not the opposer, as falsely propagated.https://t.co/nIV3uAH33G
— Aliya Hamza Malik(Updates) (@AliyaPTIupdates) January 7, 2022
The nomination of the female judge was not only appreciated domestically but also received international appraisal. Some observers, however, are still skeptical about the whole situation and cautioned that the nomination of one female judge is far from enough and called for equal representation of women across the board.