All I had to do was to read the headline and it made sense. In Pakistan, you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t! The recent nomination of ex-Senator Dr. Khalid Ranjha, a PML linked politician is now being painted as a nomination by PPP’s Latif Khosa. It just doesn’t make sense.
To my leadership in PPP: sirs, please nominate a Jiyala to every important position because whatever you do, the mindless media just doesn’t like it. I think we should nominate Ahmed Awais, Hamid Khan and Akram Sheikh to the judicial commission, only then will Jang and The News be happy. Oh but then the headline would be: Zardari cronies attempt to buy honest lawyers!
By Umar Cheema
ISLAMABAD: Dr Khalid Ranjha, the new member of the Judicial Commission which will select superior court judges, has been a Lahore High Court judge but was removed by the then prime minister for alleged financial misconduct and arguably low professional acumen. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had removed him on the recommendation of the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Ajmal Mian.
The News has confirmed these facts from different sources privy to the then confidential correspondence between the Presidency, the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister’s Secretariat in the second term of Nawaz Sharif. Dr Ranjha is now Pakistan Bar Council’s (PBC) nominee for the Commission courtesy support of Latif Khosa, who himself was removed from the Attorney General’s post amidst rumours of possible financial misconduct. Although, Ranjha had told The News that he was not confirmed as an LHC judge by Nawaz because the latter didn’t consider him as competent enough for the position, the details of removal are intriguing and instructive alike. Background discussions with the main players of the time and bureaucrats involved in the process reveal that Nawaz as the PM wanted to confirm Ranjha as an LHC judge but his recommendation was vetoed by the then president and the chief justice of Pakistan.
As Nawaz sent Ranjha’s case to President Rafiq Tarar for confirmation, the presidency rejected his name. Tarar, who had himself served as a judge, first of the LHC and then the SC, did not accept Dr. Ranjha’s name on the grounds that he had received complaints of Ranjha’s financial misconduct and poor working as a judge. Instead of approving his confirmation, Tarar suggested giving him another one-year extension as an additional judge of the LHC, granting him a grace period for improvement and clearing himself of the allegations.
But when this file travelled to the office of the then Chief Justice Ajmal Mian, who was already aware of such complaints, he recommended Ranjha’s removal altogether and it was subsequently done by Nawaz Sharif.
Sources said Nawaz was left with no option as according to the Judges Case, any recommendation of the Chief Justice of Pakistan with regard to appointment or removal of a judge, could not be rejected without justiciable grounds.
Now as Ranjha has been made a part of this selection process, there are many questions being raised about the competency of the panel members like him who could not make to the position of a permanent judge on charges of misconduct.
The role of the PBC that nominated Ranjha for representation in Judicial Commission is also under intense debate. The ‘collective wisdom’ exercised by PBC late Thursday through balloting gave Ranjha preference over a person like Farkhruddin G Ebrahim, a man of impeccable character who commands respect among friends and foes in legal fraternity and outside.
Ebrahim, who has also served as a judge, as attorney general and Governor Sindh, was appointed on these positions by successive PPP governments and had resigned each time on principles. This man of character never hides his political tilt towards the PPP, however the party lawyers’ panel headed by Khosa thought it better to vote for Ranjha to the Commission who neither commands good reputation nor belongs to the PPP.
There is no clear procedure of replacement of a PBC member in the Commission before the expiry of a two-year term, though it is generally believed that majority of the members through a requisition can call for fresh election of the member.