The past year has seen important judicial precedents being set and the institution of the judiciary taking independent decisions to empower the judges and to ensure that all decisions and policy choices of the elected are in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan. The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar has been particularly active in this field; having taken several initiatives and promising that the time of undue extensions has gone, and judges will be rotated accordingly.

An intriguing case, however, is that of the trials of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members. The tenure of the District and Sessions Judge, Mohammad Bashir – who has been assigned all these cases, and has already been given an extension previously – is about to end.

However the case is still in progress due to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filing supplementary references. This means that case will not be closed by March 6 as expected as the former Prime Minister is also expected to file evidences in his defence and the case will then progress accordingly.

So an important question arises; will the judge be given another extension, or will the new regime of judicial reform be applied uniformly?

In such a scenario, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking another extension for the accountability court judge is a matter of concern because it pushes the judicial progress a step backwards. It is going to be a tough choice for not just the Interior Ministry but also the Chief Justice due to a tussle between pragmatism and principle. The idea behind judicial independence was based on following the book of law, which involves the rotation of judges timely. Only time will tell, which position is the institution inclined towards. The decision will either push for a new setup or strengthen the old one.