Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Govt makes offer to 'reappoint' deposed judges

Wednesday, May 14, 2008
By Ansar Abbasi
(Courtesy The News)

ISLAMABAD: In yet another controversial move, the government has contacted several deposed judges of the provincial high courts with an offer to reappoint them as judges of their respective high courts but at the cost of compromising their pre-Nov 3 seniority.
This new initiative, if implemented, would make those judges of the provincial high courts who had refused to take oath under General Musharraf's PCO on Nov 3, 2007, junior to their colleagues who preferred to work with a military strongman under the PCO. Almost all those deposed judges, approached with this new recipe for their restoration, have reportedly refused to accept this bizarre offer.
Sources said that through this move the government would be rewarding the judges who had taken oath under the PCO on Nov 3, and punishing those who had refused to show allegiance to the military dictator in violation of the Constitution.
These sources said that the PPP government, which has repeatedly reversed its stand on the judges issue despite public commitments, wanted to retain the incumbent chief justices of the provincial high courts even if the deposed judges were restored.
Sources said that some senior government functionaries, including a federal minister and a top official of the prime minister's secretariat, held a marathon meeting with a few "important persons" in the vicinity of Punjab House last night to finalise the plan. According to sources,†the plan has been authored by the presidency.
The meeting, which started late at night, continued till 4:00 a.m. Some provincial governors, the sources said, were also consulted while a few pre-Nov 3 colleagues of the judges were assigned the task of contacting the deposed judges of the high courts with this unusual offer.
A source lamented that the PPP, which is a signatory to the Charter of Democracy, whose article 3(b) clearly reads that no judge shall take oath under the PCO, will be seriously deviatiing from the document if the plan goes ahead.
The PPP has already decided that it would retain the PCO judges and even those who were appointed in the post-Nov 3 situation and were not part of the Nov 2 judiciary. The latest move goes a step further. It was the judges restoration issue that forced the PML(N) to quit the cabinet after the PPP backtracked from the Murree Declaration and insisted that all the judges of the present superior judiciary would be retained as regular judges. The PML(N) had compromised to the extent that the PCO judges, appointed after Nov 3 in the Supreme Court, would be made ad hoc judges.