Pakistan News

AJK bar warns of strike in the region

AJK bar warns of strike in the region

MUZAFFARABAD: An apex body of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) based lawyers on Monday warned of a chain of strikes across the region if the recent “politically motivated” appointment of two judges in the AJK Shariat Court was not withdrawn by the “authorities concerned”.

“Either both the judges should step down on their own or the concerned authorities should withdraw their politically motivated appointments without further ado,” demanded the Executive Committee of the AJK Bar Council at a marathon meeting here.

“Unless that happens, no lawyer would appear before these two judges and a complete boycott of all courts will be held on Thursdays,” it declared.

The Executive Committee meeting was attended by all six members, Syed Shafqat Hussain Gardezi, Raja Khalid Mahmood, Raja Sajjad Ahmed Khan, Mir Sharafat Hussain, Sardar Javed Naz and Chaudhry Khalid Yousuf.

AJK Bar Council’s vice chairman Khawaja Manzoor Qadir also attended the meeting on a special invite.

On March 27, the AJK government had appointed three judges in the AJK Shariat Court, hours before the expiry of the AJK Shariat Court (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014.

The ordinance was promulgated by the government to make room for the inductions in the institution in the wake of a Supreme Court judgment of September last year.

The name of one of the three judges was, however, withdrawn by the government after 24 hours, reportedly because of serious reservations of the AJK High Court Chief Justice Ghulam Mustafa Mughal.

The other two – Sardar Mohammad Shahzad Khan and Mushtaq Ahmed Janjua – were administered oath by AJK President on March 30.

However, the representatives of all district and tehsil bar associations as well as members of the AJK Bar Council had rejected the appointments, and in order to show their displeasure had also observed a complete strike on April 1.

Besides, the legal fraternity representatives had also criticized both the chief justices for “failing to do meaningful consultations” for the appointments, as enunciated in the AJK Supreme Court’s own verdict on Shariat Court as well as the famous al-Jihad Trust case verdict by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The AJK Shariat Court is not a constitutional court but it was established through an act of Legislative Assembly in 1993 to hear (in appeals) matters pertaining to family disputes, murder cases along with all other Islamic penal offences.

The perks and privileges of Shariat Court judges were declared to be equivalent to that of the High Court judges.

Appointment of judges in this court was the sole prerogative of the government, without any mention of the consultation with the chief justices. However, in September last year the AJK Supreme Court declared section 3 of the Shariat Court Act 1993 ultra vires of the AJK Constitution, and resultantly all appointments of judges made under it were declared void.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2015

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