SHC CJ not above the law: SC


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) Thursday ruled for examining as to whether concession for appointments made to the subordinate courts of Sindh High Court (SHC) were given in accordance with law or not.

A three-member apex court bench, headed by Justice Umer Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, heard the case of alleged illegal recruitments made to the district judiciary of the Sindh province.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen remarked, “The Sindh High Court chief justice is not above the law and he is bound to abide by the law and rules.” The court directed SHC registrar to submit a comprehensive report pertaining to recruitments, allegedly made to the district courts of the province in an illegal manner, and adjourned hearing until Dec 10.

The court held that as per the SHC report, out of 19 stenographers recruited to District Gharbi of Karachi, 14 were given concession of domiciles. “Same is the situation of every district,” the court noted, adding that in District Sharqi, 11 stenographers were recruited on the basis of domiciles while six were given concession age wise. The court noted that no entry tests were conducted for these recruitments.

The court directed the SHC registrar to provide complete data of the recruitments and ensure that all appointments were made in transparent manner and in accordance with the law. “We want that all the arbitrary powers granted in the law should be used in transparent and legal manner and it’s our responsibility to go by the law,” Justice Bandial remarked Similarly, Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that they were looking into the matter in a broader perspective, adding that if the appointments were made by the competent authority in a transparent manner, then it was okay.

Justice Bandial observed that they had received complaints that rules were relaxed for the near and dear-ones while recruiting them to the district judiciary. The judge said that appointments to grade 16 were made through interviews, though screening test for the appointment of stenographers was mandatory, and concessions were also given in domiciles.

“Whether no eligible candidate was available for the appointment in District Gharbi, Karachi,” Justice Bandial asked the Registrar adding that in the present age, even a child knows how to type. The judge asked as to whether not a single person was available in Karachi who knew typing.

SHC Registrar Abdur Razaq Samu, while submitting a report in the court, stated that giving concession was not a new matter, adding that in the instant case, the competent officers had recommended to the SHC chief justice for relaxation of rules. He submitted that there had been allegations that in district Dadu, some six ‘relatives’ were appointed after giving them age relaxation. But in the said district, he said 27 appointments were made, of which seven were given maximum age relaxation.

He stated that as per rule 14, the chief justice was empowered to make relaxation in rules. Justice Ijazul Ahsen, however, observed that rules could be relaxed when no candidate was available on merit. “Whether candidates on merit were not available in the instant matter,” the judge asked.

The registrar told the court that the provincial government had given 15-year age relaxation, adding that those who got relaxation in the district judiciary were on merit with other credentials.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that the instant matter was related to the high court; therefore, recruitments must be made to the subordinate courts in a transparent manner. “What was urgency in the recruitments for which rules were relaxed,” Justice Ahsen asked the registrar.

The registrar informed the court that the candidates had requested for relaxation, on which the competent officer recommended and the SHC chief justice relaxed the rules as per law. Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel asked as to whether candidates who got relaxation had extraordinary eligibility.

The registrar replied that district judge Dadu had wrote for relaxation as the candidates were eligible for the said posts and they had applied for the relaxation and the assistant commissioner had approved the applications.

To a court’s query, the registrar submitted that some 1,184 recruitments were made in 27 districts of the province, of which 578 were made without tests, adding as per law no screening tests was required for recruitments from grade 1 to 5. He submitted that others were short-listed through NTS.

Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel observed that the appellant had alleged that papers were leaked out for recruitment of additional session judges and blue eyed were appointed. Justice Bandial observed that they had also received videos of papers leaked out, but the allegation seems not true, adding that 500 candidates appeared in the examination for an additional judge of which only one was recruited.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen asked the SHC registrar to satisfy the court that ‘relatives’ were not recruited to the posts. The registrar told the court that none of those who did not qualify had raised any objections.

The SHC registrar sought two weeks time for submitting a report. Justice Bandial told him that court’s vacations commence after a week wherein some judges would be available in Islamabad and some would be in other registries; therefore, the case would be heard next week on Friday and adjourned the matter.

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