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Proposed Amendments to Pakistan’s Judicial Commission: Overhauling the Process of Appointing Judges

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Pakistan’s judiciary has been plagued by allegations of favouritism and opaque procedures, leading to a pressing need for reform. At the centre of the debate are the proposed amendments to the Judicial Commission’s rules. These amendments, which include [specific amendments], are aimed at overhauling the process of appointing judges to superior courts. The proposed changes aim to inject transparency into a system that has long been shrouded in secrecy and criticism.

During the most recent meeting of the Judicial Commission, the discussion focused on diluting the unilateral power wielded by the Chief Justice (CJ) and the High Court (HC) in the appointment process, with the goal of injecting transparency into the process. Bar councils and judiciary members have argued for clear criteria for appointment, advocating for a collaborative selection process. However, some justices have opposed the amendments, citing the time-consuming nature of parliamentary procedures.

The debate over the proposed amendments highlights the need for reform in Pakistan’s judiciary. The removal of Justice Shaukat Siddiqui seven years ago, which was [specific circumstances of the removal], exemplified the dissent within the judiciary, with the former justice’s restoration to full judge status with retirement benefits by Zardari serving as a temporary solution. Interference from non-democratic forces is still a reality, and it is imperative to place institutional safeguards against arbitrary removals and political influence on judicial decisions.

The judiciary is under immense pressure, with even individuals like Imran Khan making unreasonable demands from Adiala jail, urging the judiciary to expedite the proceedings for him and his wife and calling for the release of “innocent imprisoned workers.” These demands, coupled with [other pressures], reflect the populace’s disillusionment with the perceived injustice within the legal system.

CJ Qazi Faez Isa has a unique opportunity to lead the way in restoring integrity to a fractured system. The objectives are clear – to strengthen accountability, transparency, and independence within the judicial apparatus. It is crucial to foster dialogue among the stakeholders and champion initiatives for procedural clarity. Once this process is complete, Pakistan’s judiciary can regain its standing, instilling confidence in its impartiality and effectiveness.

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