We borrowed it from South Africa?… No Sir!!

One of the questions that CJ and some other judges keep asking from the petitioner’s counsels is:  Does  parliament have a say in judicial appointments in other countries? Mr. Akram Shaikh in his arguments tried to mislead the court and tried to divert the question to the appointments in UK by the judicial commission which has no parliamentarian.

Mr.  Hamid Khan however came up with the response that we borrowed this procedure from South Africa. I know the reason why Akram Shaikh and Hamid Khan are reluctant to discuss in detail the appointments of judges in different parts of the world. The role of parliamentarians in appointment of judges is not alien to the world , there have been several research papers and discussion both in and out of the parliament in all parts of the world.

In UK , in 2005 , the Lord select committee published a detailed report explaining the changes made by the “Constitutional Reforms Act 2005” , please note that this act recommends a judicial appointments commission to play a key role in all the judicial appointments in future.

Then USIP produces a white paper (in January 2009) , discussing the same question of “Judicial appointments and Judicial Independence“. Let me quote some facts from this paper:

Systems of judicial appointments come in four basic configurations:
1. appointment by political institutions;
2. appointment by the judiciary itself;
3. appointment by a judicial council (which may include non-judge members);
4. selection through an electoral system.

Countries using the above configuration

1. appointment by political institutions; Most of East European Countries, Italy , South Korea, US , Brazil , Russia, Germany ,
2. appointment by the judiciary itself; India, Pakistan
3. appointment by a judicial council (which may include non-judge members); France, Iraq
4. selection through an electoral system. Japan , US States Court(recall procedure) ,

It is important to point out that Supreme Court of Pakistan is not the right institution to suggest which configuration is best for the people of Pakistan , this decision is made by the parliament and not by the judiciary all over the world. As I have been saying that the only valid reason for supreme court to review the 18th amendment or any amendment in the constitution is to see if the amendment violates any of the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan.

I do however agree on one point that the judicial independence has a relationship with the judicial appointment procedure , particularly in case of appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges. We already have seen that how appointment by a single authority, be it the president/government of Pakistan or Chief Justice of Pakistan, can be misused to compromise the independence of judiciary. There are no two opinions about that.

But we need to understand that it is the parliament who is going to decide which procedure is better to appoint the judges. And in 18th amendment parliament has decided unanimously what is the right procedure.

Hamid Khan today (Monday) , kept harping about the “basic structure” in the light of “Objective Resolution” , we must note that both of these terms “basic structure of the constitution” and “Objective Resolution” are the weapons in the hands of establishment to undermine the powers of Parliament.  The notion of basic structure of constitution was invented by the Peerzadas of Pakistan , (ab)using it from the Indian Supreme Court verdict to safeguard the rights of minorities in India.

Basic structure theory should not be abused. The founders of 1973 constitution deliberately used the “Objective Resolution” as the preamble and knew that Objective resolution in no way provides the mechanism or concrete guide of its own implementation , therefore it can not be an operative part in the constitution. I would touch in more detail how “Objective resolution” is mere an abstract statement on what guidelines to observe in framing the constitution. “Objective Resolution” can not be used to form a “basic structure” of constitution of Pakistan during the course of this case.

I still miss Aitzaz Ahsan in this case.



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