Nomination of Chief Justice of Federal Shariat Court - A Big Questions

File Photo: The Federal Shariat Court, Islamabad File Photo: The Federal Shariat Court, Islamabad

By Afshain Afzal

Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Umar Ata Bandial has summoned a meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) on 15 May 2023 to appoint the permanent Chief Justice of Federal Shariat Court. It is being claimed that Justice (Retired) Iqbal Hamidur Rehman will be nominated as the permanent Chief Justice of Federal Shariat Court. Justice Iqbal Hamidur Rehman was born in Dacca, former East Pakistan and remained as Chief Justice Islamabad High Court from January 2011 to February 2013, tendered resignation as Judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan on 24 October 2016, as he was accused of making illegal appointments in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and few other issues. Important case by Justice Iqbal Hamidur Rehman included; Gojra incident of 2009, certain members of the Christian Community was burnt alive by a mob. Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rahman was entrusted with One Man Tribunal of Inquiry in respect of Gojra he not only tried to stop communal violence but also submitted objective guidelines for the protection of the rights of minorities in Pakistan.

As Chief Justice he also decided Rimsha Masih daughter of Mizrik Masiah resident of Maira Jaffer Vs. Station House Officer, Police Station Ramna etc in which F.I.R. No.303 under 295-8 P.P.C dated 16 August 2012 under Section 295-8 P.P.C. registered at Police Station Ramna, Islamabad was quashed. He also played controversial in Asia Bibi case in which she was accused of blasphemy. The hearing was adjourned because Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rahman, one of the three judges to hear the case, recused himself from the bench on the day of the hearing because of a “conflict of interest”. The cause list was issued a week earlier he delayed till day of hearing, leaving no alternative for some other arrangements. This allowed a lot of negative propaganda against Pakistan by Iranian national Sam Zarifi, who was International Court of Justice’s Asia Director.

Originally, a Behari origin father of Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rahman was famous Justice Hamood ur Rahman, who was appointed as as Advocate General of East Pakistan in 1953, from where he was elevated as judge of the Dhaka High Court in 1954. Parents of Justice Hamood ur Rehman originally belonged to Patna, India and migrated to East Pakistan much after partition of India and Pakistan. He remained as the Vice Chancellor of University of Dacca (1958–60) and also appointed as judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1960 from where he was elevated as the Chief Justice of Pakistan in 1968. Justice Hamoodur Rahman was author of Commission Report, which inquired into the circumstances leading to the breakup of Pakistan in 1971. Because of his anti military and anti-Pakistan report, he was chosen as member United Nations Committee on Crime Prevention and Control (1972–73) and Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (1974–77).

The position of Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court, Islamabad is vacant since long. Presently, the Court is run by Justice Dr. Syed Muhammad Anwer, who was appointed as Aalim Judge Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan on 21 may 2020, and is Acting Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan since his appointment on 16 May 2022. The law allows the senior-most Judge to be appointed as Chief Justice. Keeping the national interests in view, general public is questioning the nomination of Justice Iqbal Hamidur Rehman as Chief Justice. One wonders if this is the case why a retired Judge is being nominated who resigned over a controversy and had controversial background.


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