Gilgit-Baltistan:Inordinate Delays in appointment of Superior Judges in GB

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GILGIT (ET): Lawyers have expressed concern over the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government’s delay in appointment of judges in the Supreme Appellate Court. They said the apex court has been left dysfunctional for the past four months due to the shortage of judges.

After the contracts of Justice Syed Jafer Shah and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob expired in May this year, the Supreme Appellate Court was left with only one judge to hear cases. Ibrahim Shahid, a local lawyer, pointed out that under Article 60(14) of the G-B Governance Order 2009, an appeal to the Supreme Appellate Court must be heard by a bench consisting of not less than two judges. With only one judge, the court is unable to take up appeals and it is the people who are suffering as a result, he added.

Another lawyer, Musrat Jamal, was more critical of the opposition parties than the government itself over the delay in appointment of judges at the Supreme Appellate Court. “It is the opposition’s role to voice concerns over the government’s laxness. They have failed to fulfil their responsibilities as people’s representatives,” he added.

Janbaz Khan, the opposition leader in the G-B assembly said, “I can’t make any comments on the judiciary and the judges’ issue. All I can say is it is the responsibility of the government and not the opposition to appoint judges.”

The government, however, is hopeful that the vacant posts will be filled soon. “We have sent yet another summary to the federal government, requesting them to either extend the contract of justices Shah and Yaqoob or elevate judges from the lower courts,” G-B Law Minister Wazir Shakeel told ET. He said he is hopeful that the issue will be resolved in a few weeks.

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