Pakistan Judicial Commission (JCP) Thursday approved the elevation of Lahore High Court Judge Ayesha Malik to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. If the Parliamentary Judges’ Committee, which has the final say on Supreme Court appointments, approves this recommendation, then Malik will become the country’s first female Supreme Court judge.
Led by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, the JCP approved Malik’s elevation by a majority of five to four. This is the second time that the JCP has called a meeting to vote on Malik’s rise. The JCP first considered his name on September 9, 2021, but the jury was also divided, which led to the rejection of his application. In addition, several Pakistani bars also opposed his appointment on the grounds that his elevation would violate the principle of seniority in the absence of any defined criteria.
Specifically, Pakistan Bar Council, Provincial / Islamabad Bar Councils, Supreme Court Bar Association and all High Court Bars had adopted a resolution Monday opposing his appointment. They argued that his appointment to the supreme court would replace three judges of the Lahore High Court who are superior to him in terms of service, violating the principle of seniority established in the Al-Jehad Trust case.
Ultimately, they asked Pakistan’s chief justice to recall / postpone the JCP meeting held on January 6, 2022. On Wednesday, the Pakistan Bar Council issued a statement urging lawyers across the country to go on strike on Thursday, January 6, 2022, and will not appear in court in protest against Malik’s elevation. Despite opposition, the JCP met on Thursday and approved Malik’s appointment.
Maleeka Bokhari, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice, describe the recommendation of the JCP as “an important and defining moment” for the country. her further added, “Erroneous legal arguments based on an imaginary seniority principle and intimidation tactics must not hinder this significant and historic rise.”
In addition, the Women in Law Pakistan Initiative, who works for equal opportunities and connectivity for women lawyers in Pakistan, said: “There is no requirement in the law and the constitution to appoint the senior judge to the Supreme Court.” He also said: “at least 41 times judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court without them being the oldest. So there is no such custom either.