JCP sends nomination to parliamentary committee
The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) has recommended the names of three advocates, including a woman, to be appointed as additional judges to the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Saman Rafat will not be the only woman judge on the Islamabad High Court but will also be the sole judge to represent the Sindh province.
The JCP, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed met Tuesday and approved to send the names of advocate Saman Rafat Imtiaz, Arbab Mohammad Tahir and Barrister Sardar Ejaz Ishaq to the Parliamentary Committee for Appointment of Judges.
Earlier, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah nominated the three advocates including a female lawyer for their appointment as additional judges of the IHC.
It is pertinent to mention that Ms Rafat hails from Sindh while Mr Tahir is from Balochistan. Barrister Ishaq has been an advocate of the Lahore High Court since 1994.
The IHC chief justice, while recommending the names to the JCP wrote, “Section 3 of the Islamabad High Court Act, 2010 provides that the High Court shall consist of a chief justice and nine other judges to be appointed from the provinces and other territories of Pakistan. At present four positions of judges are vacant.”
“Keeping in view the intent of the legislature and the nature of litigation on generally dealt with by the High Court, the representation of the provinces has been ensured since its inception. After the non-confirmation of the three additional judges, the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan have no representation on the benches”, he wrote.
Arbab Muhammad Tahir is serving as the Advocate General of Balochistan since Junuary 2019. Saman Rafat Imtiaz obtained her law degree from the University of Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A. She has been practicing law in Karachi since 2004.
The parliamentary committee will decide upon these nominations in two weeks.
With the appointment of three additional judges, the total number of judges in the IHC will reach nine. Last year in December, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and Justice Babar Sattar were appointed additional judges in the IHC.
Ms Rafat won’t be the first female judge to be appointed to the IHC. In 2019, Lubna Saleem Pervaiz took oath as an additional judge. However, her appointment lapsed since she was not elevated as a judge. Pervaiz was also from the Sindh province.
Currently, there is no female judge serving in the Islamabad High Court. In the provincial high courts, only the Lahore and Peshawar high courts have female judges – Justice Ayesha A. Malik and Justice Musarrat Hilali, respectively.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan also doesn’t have a female judge. It was to change earlier this year when Justice Ayesha A. Malik of the LHC was nominated for elevation to the apex court. However, a consensus couldn’t be formed among the JCP members on her appointment.
Four members of the JCP voted in favour of her appointment and four in opposition. The ninth member Justice Qazi Faiz Isa did not attend the meeting as he was not in the country.
Pakistan is the only country in South Asia to not have appointed a woman judge in the Supreme Court. Justice Ayesha, had her nomination been confirmed, would have become the first female judge of the court. She would have also come in a position to become the chief justice of Pakistan after the retirement of Justice Yahya Afridi in January 2030.
Felicitations messages poured on Twitter at the news of Ms Rafat’s nomination.
Zahrah Sehr Vayani, a colleague of Ms Rafat wrote about her: “an excellent advocate, a great asset to our profession & an example for female advocates across the board.”
I am extremely proud to announce that one of the founder members & board member of the Women Lawyers Association,an excellent advocate, a great asset to our profession & an example for female advocates across the board,Miss. Saman Riffat Imtiaz’s name has been approved by the JCP— Zahrah Sehr Vayani (@ZahrahV) November 23, 2021
This is excellent news!!!! We cannot be more excited to see more diversity and representation at the bench and in the Bar. Good on JCP to have approved Ms. Saman Riffat Imtiaz as one of the judges of the IHC. #RepresentationMatters https://t.co/BjxLFsbcoG— Women In Law (@WomenInLawPk) November 23, 2021
Congratulations,a great step by including woman in judiciary
— Sajjad Bloch (@SajjadBlochAdv) November 23, 2021