ISLAMABAD – Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif said on Sunday that the government had nothing to do with the appointment of Justice Saqib Nisar as Chief Justice of Pakistan.
He clarified that the appointment of Saqib Nisar was made purely in accordance with the constitutional mandate and command.
Khawaja Asif, who is also Minister for Defence, said Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was promoted to the position of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) strictly on merit and in accordance with Article 175A (3) of the Constitution, according to which the senior-most judge should be appointed as the CJP.
“A smear campaign is rampant on social media designed specifically to undermine certain offices whose sanctity is sine qua non (pivotal) for the independent functioning of the justice system of the country,” he said.
The minister said after the decisions in the Al-Jehad Trust and Sajjad Ali Shah cases and the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, only the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court could be appointed as its chief justice.
Justice Saqib Nisar, he said, being the senior most judge could have been appointed as the chief justice, which was the constitutional mandate.
“The appointment of anybody else would have been a violation of the constitution,” he added.
The legislator said Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was indeed the law secretary but appointed as the first non-judge after Sir Edmund Nelson for three reasons:
1. The Al Jehad decision appeared to suggest that judges should not be appointed to such positions.
2. Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah made it clear that no judge would be made available for this post.
3. Khalid Anwar, a lawyer of great eminence, was the Law Minister and Saqib Nisar was his choice as the law secretary.
“The appointment of Saqib Nisar as an additional judge of the Lahore High Court was made on the recommendation of (then) Chief Justice of the LHC and in consultation with then Chief Justice of Pakistan Ajmal Mian,” Khawaja Asif said.