Islamabad, May 28 : A Pakistan-like judicial crisis is reportedly fuelling in PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) too where the appointment of chief justice is not only being protested and challenged by lawyers and civil society, but there are also charges that documents of a petition were forcibly grabbed by the chief justice.
The PoK Bar Council and all bar associations have passed resolutions against the controversial appointment of the chief justice.
Lawyers allege that a junior judge was made the chief justice of the region, while many senior judges were there who could fill the post.
"The legal fraternity of the PoK challenged this appointment in the High Court through a writ petition but the High Court was raided on the order of the chief justice and a judge of the Supreme Court, in connivance with the IGP, and the writ petition was confiscated. It is being kept by Chief Justice Riaz Akhtar Chaudary in his custody," The News quoted the lawyers as alleging.
Justice Riaz Akhtar Chaudhry was first appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of the PoK on Sep 24 2006, and then as its chief justice within 20 days by superseding the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court Justice Manzoor Hussain Gillani, who was senior to him by 6 years in judicial service and by more than 2 years in the Supreme Court.
Justice Riaz also remained a junior judge with Justice Gillani, who was the Chief Justice of the PoK High Court for about four years.
The sitting Chief Justice of the PoK, Justice Riaz Akhtar Chaudhry, defended his appointment as constitutionally and legally right and claimed that he was senior to Justice Manzur Hussain Gillani. "I was appointed as judge of the high court on 24 January 1991 while Gillani was appointed in May 1991. Perhaps he is five months junior to me," said the CJ of the PoK Supreme Court.
He added: :If I am junior to Justice Munzur Hussain Gillani, even then the constitution of PoK does not state that seniority is required for appointment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of AJK."
He said that his performance in the high court and the Supreme Court had given him the respect which he was enjoying. "It was not only the mere appointment as the chief justice that some segments did not like," he said and added: "But, my performance in the SC has also astonished the group that does not like me."