ISLAMABAD - Despite the fact that a seat for a judge is vacant in the Supreme Court and there has been an acute shortage of judges in the high courts, the deadlock between the bars and the Judicial Commission of Pakistan over the issue of appointment of additional judges and extension to their services continues to remain unanswered.

This is evident from the fact that JCP’s Saturday meeting about the appointment of seven additional judges in the Peshawar High Court and six-month extension to services of six additional judges of the Lahore High Court was neither attended by the attorney general of Pakistan and the law and justice minister nor lawyers' representatives.

The superior bars have been sticking to their stance of not sending their representatives to any JCP meeting until redress of their reservations with regards to the commission's proceedings.

Pakistan Bar Council Vice-Chairman Syed Qalbi Hussain told The Nation that the council's special committee had finalised proposals for amendments to the JCP rules, and that the PBC executive body would forward these proposed amendments to the commission after reviewing them on March 9 (Saturday).

Hussain nevertheless raised several questions over the JCP running the proceedings without presence of the bars’ representatives, attorney general of Pakistan and the federal law minister. He also mentioned that the Hamid Khan Group, known as a pro-judiciary group, had endorsed bars' resolutions for amending the commission rules. The PBC vice-chairman also complained that they had met with the chief justice of Pakistan and conveyed their concerns over the JCP proceedings, but no progress had so far been achieved.

On February 14, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, in his address, observed that upon the completion of the tenure of the representatives of some bar councils in the recent past, unfortunately, new nominations had not so far been received although several letters and reminders had been issued by the office of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan.

Justice Chaudhry also observed that non-participation by any of the members on the commission deprived this body of valuable input in selecting the best and the brightest to adorn the benches; therefore, all the stakeholders were expected to fulfill their constitutional obligation in the public interest.

The chief justice also said that the high courts throughout the country were already faced with severe shortage of judges and additional appointments were required to complete the strength of the benches.