Minor changes planned in NA judiciary
28 October 2007
Gilgit: After the announcement of a political and administrative reforms package for the Northern Areas by President Gen Pervez Musharraf, the federal government is considering some minor changes in the higher judiciary of the region, which comprises the Northern Areas Chief Court and Court of Appeals. Informed sources said the changes were being considered because of strong resentment among political parties and the regional bar council over the plan to keep the judiciary under the administrative control of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas despite the announcement about devolution of powers to Gilgit. The sources said that the ministry planned only to change the nomenclature of the chairman and members of both the courts into the chief judge and judges of the court of appeals and chief court. The federal ministry has also proposed to omit a paragraph of the Northern Areas’ Chief Court Establishment Order 1998 regarding the perks and privileges of the chief court judges which would be determined by the federal government from time to time. The proposed amendments would not transfer to the courts the constitutional powers enjoyed by the high courts of the provinces. As regards to the reconstitution of the existing supreme judicial council of the region, consisting of bureaucracy of the Kashmir Affairs Ministry, the ministry seems to be reluctant to give an independent status to the Northern Areas judiciary. The sources said that some powers would be conferred upon the Court of Appeals, including the original jurisdiction to take suo motu action against violations of fundamental rights. It may be mentioned that the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its verdict of May 28, 1999, had directed the federal government to give the regional chief court the powers enjoyed by high courts and the jurisdiction to entertain constitutional petitions.