Justice Mandokhail Recusal Plunges CJP, SC Into Fresh Crisis

Justice Mandokhail Recusal Plunges CJP, SC Into Fresh Crisis
Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) judge Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail has recused himself from the larger bench hearing the case on the delay in the provincial assemblies’ elections.

Lawyers question what would be the legitimacy of the judicial proceedings, even as voices were being raised within the SC on the matter related to the postponement of elections.

The next week is expected to be very crucial in the prevailing situation, as the clash within the SC only seems to be deepening.

An unpleasant occurrence was witnessed when the SC registrar issued a circular on Friday disregarding a judicial order by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan, and Justice Shahid Waheed dissenting, whose majority opinion held that hearing of all cases under Article 184(3) of the Constitution be postponed until the SC Rules 1980 were revised in order to rationalise the chief justice's (CJP) discretionary powers to form special benches.

A question has now arisen as to whether a judicial order could be disregarded through an administrative order passed by the CJP.

A lawyer opined that instead of disregarding the administrative side, the “bench should have suspended the order for the time being”. He said that contempt might be issued to the SC registrar over issuance of the circular. However, next week would be further crucial about the present state of affairs within the SC.

Following the circular as well as recusal of Justice Mandokhail, Pakistan Bar Council Executive Committee Chairman Hasan Raza Pasha urged the CJP to summon a full court meeting to discuss the prevailing situation.

The chief justice, however, said that they were working to call a full court meeting in the next couple of days.

However, it was learnt that the temperature was so high within the SC that there were less chances that the judges of both the sides would sit to discuss certain issues.

Another lawyer said, “The CJP should have consulted the judges before issuance of the circular.”

The most alarming thing was that Justice Mandokhail in his judicial note regarding his recusal said that three judges – namely CJP Bandial, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar – dictated the order in his absence and without contacting him for participation in the deliberations.