Monday, December 11, 2023

Who's on first?

There is dissension in the ranks of Pakistan's Supreme Court over the composition of the bench that will hear the intra-court appeal in the military-courts case. According to this account, one justice has raised objections to the designation of a six-member bench to hear argument on December 15. 

The Business Recorder reproduces a letter from Justice Ijazul Ashan detailing his objections to the composition of the six-member bench to review the October 23 decision of a five-member bench. Excerpt:
I categorically and in clear terms stated that in order to dispel any impression of pick and choose, all judges of this Court in the order of seniority be included in the appellate Bench. The Chief Justice agreed but said that he would ask the judges and if any judge does not want to sit on the Bench, the next available judge will be included.

The same principle was agreed for cases mentioned in Sr Nos. 3 to 6, with the difference that a three-member Bench would be constituted in the order of seniority. If any judge did not wish to sit on the bench the next in order of seniority would be included in the bench. It was agreed that after asking the proposed members of the two benches the members of the Committee will be informed.

“I waited all day on Friday for any information regarding the two Benches. At least three phone calls were made to you, but my office was informed that the file with your note had been sent to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The last call was made at 06:30 p.m. when your office stated that you had left for the day.

“Neither the minutes of the 4th meeting nor those of the 5th meeting were sent to me on Friday or Saturday. Neither of the minutes have been seen or signed by me, yet these have been uploaded on the website of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

As a member of the Committee, it is my right and duty to ensure that the minutes reflect accurately what was discussed in the meeting, what were the points of view of the members of the Committee and if there was any unanimity or a difference of opinion. The minutes of the 5th meeting prepared and uploaded by you must certainly fail to do so.
Stay tuned; this is beginning to look very messy.

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