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Two chief justices elevated to Supreme court

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan is set to be promoted to the Supreme Court following the approval by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) of three nominees to fill vacant positions in the apex court.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Faez Isa had submitted the names of six senior LHC judges for two available Supreme Court seats and three senior SHC judges for one vacancy.

The Supreme Court currently operates with 14 judges out of a sanctioned strength of 17, including the CJP. Justice Khan, who joined the LHC as an additional judge in 2011 and later became a confirmed judge in 2013, has also held prominent positions within the legal community.

Had Justice Khan’s nomination not been endorsed, he would have retired in March 2025. However, now he will serve an additional three years, as the retirement age in the Supreme Court is 65.

The JCP, led by CJP Qazi Faez Isa, also unanimously approved the elevation of Chief Justice of Sindh High Court Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi to the Supreme Court. Previously overlooked by the JCP, Justice Abbasi’s elevation will make him junior to judges elevated before him.

There was also consensus within the JCP regarding the elevation of Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan of the Lahore High Court.

However, the elevation of the LHC chief justice was met with opposition from some JCP members who preferred the nomination of Justice Alia Neelum. The decision to endorse Justice Khan’s nomination was based on his performance in handling criminal cases, given the significant backlog in the Supreme Court, particularly in criminal matters.

The dissenting members argued that the judiciary in Punjab requires a strong administrative head. These nominations will now undergo consideration by the parliamentary committee on the appointment of judges.

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