Friday, July 29, 2022

SC press release on JCP meeting presented 'totally different version of events': Justice Sardar Tariq Masood

After Justice Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood also demands release of 'correct' meeting minutes

Justice Sardar Tariq Masood. — Supreme Court website
Justice Sardar Tariq Masood. — Supreme Court website
  • Justice Tariq Masood becomes second JCP member to demand release of correct minutes of meeting.
  • Justice Tariq Masood in a letter shares what transpired in the JCP meeting when it became clear that majority had rejected nominations.
  • Says it was wrongly mentioned in press release four members of commission have requested for postponement of meeting. 

ISLAMABAD: Following Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s letter to the JCP, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood said on Friday that the press release issued by the public relations officer (PRO) of the Supreme Court at the Judicial Commission of Pakistan’s (JCP) meeting presented a “totally different version of events from what actually occurred”.

In a letter written to the JCP members, Justice Masood shared the events that transpired during the meeting held for the approval of the judges' elevation to the apex court.

What happened during JCP meeting?

The judge said that when the meeting started, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial described the credentials of his nominees. After that, he requested Justice (retd) Sarmad Jalal Osmany, a member of the commission, to present his views.

According to Justice Masood, members “endorsed four nominees and disapproved the nomination of Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto”.

“Thereafter, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan fully endorsed all the judges nominated by the Hon’ble Chairman (CJP) for their appointment as judges of the Supreme Court,” said Justice Masood.

After their approvals, it was Justice Masood’s turn, during which he discussed the seniority principle and also recommended that Justice Athar Minallah of the Islamabad High Court be considered.

“I did not approve three nominated judges of the High Court of Sindh and one judge of the Lahore High Court and requested to defer the nomination of the judge of the Peshawar High Court. The Hon’ble Law Minister, learned Attorney-General for Pakistan and Hon'ble Member of Pakistan Bar Council/ Member of the Commission agreed with my recommendations and dis-approved three nominee judges of the High Court of Sindh and one of the Lahore High Court,” said Justice Masood.

The judge then shared, that when Justice Qazi Faez Isa expressed his agreement with him and was in the middle of giving his reasons for disapproval, it became clear that five members of the Commission disapproved of the names of four nominees judges.

“… when at that juncture un-precedently, undemocratically and without dictating his decision of the commission and formally ending the meeting, abruptly the Hon'ble Chairman(CJP) stood up followed by Mr Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and left the meeting room by uttering the word ‘adjourned’,” said Justice Masood. He added that the press release of the Supreme Court was “contrary to the facts, as no one during almost three hours long meeting, proposed to postpone the meeting”.

“The meeting was ended abruptly as mentioned above when it was clear that nominations have been rejected by a majority of five/four of nine members of the commission and it was wrongly mentioned in the press release that four members of the commission have requested for postponement of the meeting. Had there been any such situation then there was no occasion by the members for giving their comments qua approval or disapproval of the nominations,” said Justice Masood.

No one disputed justice Qazi Faez Isa's letter: Justice Masood

Justice Masood also shared that he spoke to Justice Isa about the letter he had written, adding that he had spoken to him to confirm whether any member contended his letter written after the meeting. 

He said that the senior puisne judge informed him that no one had contented to his letter.

“The press release was issued afterwards. The PRO is not a member of the commission nor is he the Commission’s Secretary. Sir, I request for the immediate release of factual and correct detailed minutes of the meeting while giving detail of observations/discussions of each member in the meeting room. The correct minutes of the meeting, if made publically, will stop needless rumours,” concluded Justice Masood.

Justice Isa demands public release of JCP's decision

Justice Masood's letter comes, a day after Justice Qazi Faez Isa stressed that JCP's decisions made on the appointment of judges be released publicly.

In his letter, Justice Isa said that Justice Masood stated that CJP Bandial “did not dictate the decisions that were taken, and left the meeting quite abruptly, followed by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan”.

JCP rejects CJP Bandial's nominees

The letter came after, sources had told Geo News that JCP had rejected CJP Bandial's nominated judges of higher courts for their appointment to the Supreme Court.

Sources said that the chief justice, Justice Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah voted in favour of the nominees, while Justice (retd) Sarmad Jalal Usmani voted in favour of three judges from LHC and voted against the SHC nominees, sources said.

However, according to sources, their votes were less as Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Tariq Masood, Attorney-General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar voted against all the five nominees.

Official statement mentions no vote held

On the other hand, the official statement issued of the meeting said that the JCP chairman, after detailed discussion, proposed to “defer the meeting in order to enable the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan to place additional information and data about those already proposed and if he considers appropriate, add more names to the list of proposees for consideration by the JCP”.

“The proposal to defer the meeting was supported by Mr Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Mr Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Mr Justice (Retd) Sarmad Jalal Osmany and the Attorney General for Pakistan. It was accordingly decided to defer the meeting. The date of the next meeting will be communicated to the Members of the Judicial Commission by the Chairman, JCP,” said the statement.

The statement also said that the meeting was attended by seven Members of the JCP in person while Justice Qazi Faez Isa and the attorney-general attended via Zoom.