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AJK bar seeks Shariat Court’s abolition

AJK bar seeks Shariat Court’s abolition

MUZAFFARABAD: The Bar Council in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Tuesday demanded a repeal of the AJK Shariat Court Act 1993 and the abolition of the Shariat Court established under it to bring the ‘parallel judicial system’ to a halt.

Amjad Ali Khan, vice chairman of the AJK Bar Council, told a press conference that the AJK Shariat Court Act was inconsistent and in conflict with the Interim Constitution Act, 1974.

Mr Khan said the high court could discharge the duties assigned to the Shariat Court under the ‘controversial legislation’. He said, “If need be, the number of High Court judges can be increased to deal with additional workloads”.

He said the Bar Council had unanimously agreed that the functioning of the AJK Judicial Officers Association was unlawful ad against the spirit of independence and the impartiality of the judiciary.

He also opposed a proposal to transfer the process of recruitment of civil judges from the Public Service Commission over to the High Court, The AJK Shariat Court was established in 1993 to hear appeals on family dispute and murder cases along with all other Islamic penal offences.

The appointment of Shariat Court judges was the AJK government’s prerogative, unlike high court and the Supreme Court judges who are appointed on the advice of the chairman of the AJK council after consultations with both the courts and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

However, last September the AJK Supreme Court declared a section of the Shariat Court Act, 1993, ultra vires of the AJK constitution. As a result, the appointment of all three Shariat Court judges was declared void.

The Supreme Court had directed the government to introduce requisite legislation for the composition of the Shariat court, in case a constitutional cover was not immediately possible.

The government then introduced the AJK Shariat Court (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 on December 12, 2014.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2015

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