Islamabad/Lahore – President Asif Ali Zardari Wednesday approved elevation of Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed as judge of the Supreme Court and appointment of Justice Umar Ata Bandial as chief justice of the Lahore High Court.
President’s spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that the appointments were made on the advice of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani as laid down in the constitution. The PM had advised the president after the judicial commission’s nominations were subsequently endorsed by the parliamentary committee on judges’ appointment, he said. Justice Umar Ata Bandial was born on Sep 17, 1958 at Lahore. He received his elementary and secondary education at different schools in Kohat, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Lahore.
He got his Senior Cambridge certificate in the year 1973 from St Mary’s Academy, Rawalpindi and Higher Senior Cambridge certificate from Atchison College in the year 1975.
Justice Bandial secured his BA (Economics) degree from Columbia University, USA in the year 1979 followed by a Law Tripos degree from Cambridge University, UK in 1981. In 1982 he also qualified as Barrister-at-Law from Lincoln’s Inn London and enrolled as an Advocate of the Lahore High Court in 1982. Some years later, he was enrolled as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He also taught at the Punjab University Law College for four years and has been a member of its Graduate Studies Committee.
Justice Umar Bandial established a decent law practice in commercial, banking, tax and property law matters. He got the opportunity of assisting and working with famous counsels, including Mr Aitzaz Ahsan, Advocate, Mr Khalid Anwer Advocate and Mr Fakharuddin G Ebrahim Advocate in a number of commercial and constitutional cases.
In the last few years of his law practice before elevation, Justice Bandial handled some important international commercial arbitration matters before foreign arbitral tribunals in London and Paris involving the Rupali Polyester versus Hitachi dispute, the Hubco dispute, the Ghazi Barotha construction dispute and the Bayinder NHA dispute.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial was elevated to the LHC on Dec 4, 2004. He declined oath under PCO in November 2007 but was restored as a judge of the Lahore High Court as a result of the lawyers and civil society’s movement for restoration of the judiciary and constitutional rule in the country.
During his career as a judge, Justice Bandial rendered judgments on a number of important issues. These include the enforcement of transparency and merit criteria for appointment of Provincial Pubic Prosecutors under the Punjab Criminal Prosecution Service (Constitution, Functions and Powers) Act, 2006 in his judgment reported as Mushtaq Ahmed Mohal versus Government of Punjab and others.
In respect of constitutional mandates, he affirmed the independence of the Chief Election Commissioner in a Division Bench judgment reported as M Azhar Siddique and others versus Government of the Punjab etc. The said judgments were upheld by the Supreme Court. The sanctity of the presidential office as a symbol of the unity of the federation requiring its detachment from political activity was iterated in case reported as Pakistan Lawyers’ Forum versus Federation of Pakistan. The necessity of assuring transparency and competition in governmental licensing of Haj Group Organisers in a Rs9.25 billion annual business was laid down in M/s Golden Falcon Travel Services (Pvt) Ltd vs Ministry of Religious Affairs, Haj, Zakat, Usher. For the enforcement of fundamental rights to property, Justice Bandial exercised the writ jurisdiction to reach a private bank in case of AF Industries versus Federation of Pakistan. He declared the Lahore skyline to be a public property for local authority regulation of the erection of billboards and sky signs in the case of Mehran Advertiser versus Government of Punjab.