Zardari, Chief Justice Chaudhry on collision course over elevation of LHC judge

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Islamabad, Feb.14 (ANI): President Asif Ali Zardari and the higher judiciary in Pakistan are on a collision course after Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry suspended Zardari's orders to elevate Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif.

Zardari also appointed Judge Saqib Nisar as the acting Chief Justice of the LHC, a move that could also attract the Chief Justice's ire.

According to sources, the decision was taken in a high-level consultative meeting held at the Presidency in which Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chairman Senate Farooq Naek, Law Minister Babar Awan, former attorney general Latif Khosa and others discussed the summary sent by Chief Justice Chaudhry.

In his summary, Chaudhry had recommended the elevation of Justice Nisar to Supreme Court while held back the Chief Justice LHC on his current position. He had also recommended Justice (retired) Khalilur Rehman Ramday to be appointed as an ad hoc judge in the apex court.

Sources privy to the high-level meeting said Gilani raised objection over the appointments, and advised Zardari to not to go against the recommendations of the Chief Justice, as it could create chaos and disarray which would ultimately harm the government.

However, Awan and Khosa supported the Presidency's move.

Later, talking to media persons in Lahore, both Nisar and Sharif said they would not accept any 'illegal' order by the Presidency and were ready to face the consequences.

"I will happily accept any consequence," The Nation quoted Nisar, as saying.

Nisar said he would not go to the Governor House to take the oath of his new office.

"I cannot accept any illegal order just for my own sake," he added. (ANI)

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