LAHORE - MIAN DAWOOD -  Some of the lawyers have been interviewed last week by a group of Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA), beyond their authority,  for suggesting their names as judges of the LHC, a bar member claimed here on Monday. However, Bar President Shehram Sarwar denied the allegations and said no interviews were conducted.

On March 1, eight names were finalized for the appointment as judges in the LHC as the court was facing problems due to the shortage of judges. The Lahore High Court Bar Association on March 14 carried a resolution expressing concerns over the finalized names, and a group of lawyers accused the judicial commission of making the appointment beyond the merit. Lahore High Court Bar Association President Shehram Sarwar, Supreme Court Bar Association former president Asma Jahangir and their likeminded criticized the nomination of these eight judges and demanded the appointments on merit.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Commission approved the five names who took oath on March 27 as judges of the LHC. These included Justice Abdul Sami Khan, Ibad-ur-Rehman Lodhi, Shujaat Ali Khan, Ayesha A Malik and Justice Shaikh Shahid Waheed. Two names including Shamas Mahmood Mirza and Shahid Karim were dropped by the judicial commission, while the name of Ali Baqar Najfi is pending for final approval in the parliamentary committee due to non availability of his NTN (national tax number).

The bar office bearer, requesting anonymity, claimed that in order to defuse the tension between bar and bench efforts were made to reconsider the names of the lawyers whose names were dropped by the Judicial Commission last month and some other senior lawyers.

“The discussions and interviews carried out last week are a part of the proposal made by ‘some high ups’ to resolve tensions between judiciary and bar associations,” he claimed adding that Shahid Hassan Bilal, whose name was considered thrice, had been interviewed.

Another bar office bearer, however, confirmed that last week a massage was conveyed to Lahore High Court Bar Association to remain silent for the time being and give time to resolve the tension.

Talking to TheNation, Shehram Sarwar said that on March 14 they carried the resolution according to the demands of the legal fraternity because the lawyer wanted independent judiciary.

“We will again oppose if any such nominations will happen in future and will stand with the bar on this issue,” Shehram said. “We want independent judiciary for which the lawyers had struggled. We oppose individuals,” the president maintained.

“Our fight is against individuals and we can’t fight against the institution (judiciary),” he added.

He denied that he had interviewed some lawyers for initiating their names for Lahore High Court judges. Lahore High Court Bar Association Secretary Akbar Ali Dogar said he was unaware about such plan.

Conversely, another group of the legal fraternity opposed the act of initiating the names for judges by the bar association and said that judges should be appointed through the judicial commission only.

Article 175A of the Constitution says that there shall be a Judicial Commission of Pakistan, hereinafter in this Article referred to as the Commission, for appointment of judges of the Supreme Court, High Courts and the Federal Shariat Court, as hereinafter provided. Advocate Azhar Siddque said that it would be a joke if the office bearers of the Lahore High Court Bar Association had interviewed some lawyers because the bar could not initiate any name for judge.

Referring Article 175-A of the constitution, Azhar said that only the judicial commission had jurisdiction to take up the appointments of judges as the commission comprised of a representative of bar council. So any procedure, he said, which deviated Article 175-A would be an attempt to violate the constitutional provision and the rules made in view of sub article 17 of 175-A.

“In order to maintain the independence of judiciary all senior lawyers will oppose such underhand plan,” Azhar concluded.