The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) has declined to further extend services of the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) two additional judges – Justice James Joseph and Justice Zafarullah Khan Khakwani – whose tenure is set to expire on March 22.
With the removal of Justice James Joseph, the bench will now consist of Muslim judges only, 50 of whom will be men and three women.
On March 2, the judicial commission had recommended that Justice Joseph and Justice Zafar Khan Khakwani be removed from the bench. The commission had confirmed the appointment of Justices Faisal Zaman Khan, Shahid Jamil Khan, Sayed Shehbaz Ali Rizvi and Shams Mahmood Mirza.
Justice James Joseph, a Christian by faith, and the other judges had been appointed as additional judges of the LHC on March 22, 2014.
Former LHC chief justice Umar Atta Bandial had recommended Joseph, a Multan resident, for the LHC bench.
Though a notification is yet to be issued in this regard from the office of the president of Pakistan, the names of Joseph and Khakwani have been removed from the LHC’s official website.
Jamshed Rehmatullah was the first ever Christian judge to serve on the LHC bench. He had been appointed to the bench in March 2009. He had been relieved of his duties five months later on a Supreme Court directive cancelling appointments made under the Provincial Constitutional Order (PCO).
A meeting of All Pakistan Minorities Movement chaired by the Movement’s Chairman Asher Kamran discussed the issue and expressed dismay over the Judicial Commission’s decision.
Asher Kamran in his address said that failure to appoint the Joseph as permanent judge of Lahore High Court is injustice to the judge. “The decision declares Christian as second class citizens, which is highly unacceptable to us,” Kamran said.