By: Hasnaat Malik
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Bar Council’s (PBC) human rights committee is opposing moves to a quota of women judges in the Supreme Court, The Express Tribune learnt on Friday.
The committee, however, is considering a move to call upon the executive to introduce such a quota in high courts and the lower judiciary.
A member of the HR committee told The Express Tribune that a meeting of the committee, under its chairman Raheel Kamran Sheikh, was held on June 29, in which it was decided to induct working women judges from high courts through registrars concerned.
The committee, it was learnt, would also ask the registrars if any specific quota was introduced for the appointment of women judges in high courts and lower judiciary.
Raheel Kamran Sheikh also confirmed that the committee considered the bill introduced by Senator Babar Awan in May this year in the Senate, mandating a 33 percent quota for women judges in the Supreme Court through an amendment of the Supreme Court (number of judges) Act of 1997.
The bill is currently pending before the Senate’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice. However, the federal government is not interested in backing this bill.
Similarly, the committee also opposed the introduction of 33 percent quota for women judges in the apex court.
Raheel said that it would not be a wise move to induct women judges in the apex court through quota at this stage, adding that quota should be introduced in high courts and lower judiciary first.
Another member of the HR committee, Rashid A. Rizvi, stated that the committee had not yet passed any resolution on the issue. But, a discussion in this regard was under way.
Meanwhile, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Ali Zafar also supported the PBC committee’s recommendations.
On the other hand, a member of the PBC’s executive committee, Kamran Murtaza, opposed any move for introducing women judges’ quota in the judiciary, adding that women judges should be appointed on merit instead of elevating them via quota system.
Out of Pakistan’s 112 high court judges, only seven are women. Likewise, the representation of women judges sharply decreased in the district judiciary.
Meanwhile, Raheel Kamran also maintained that the committee also observed that the burden of cases had increased in Punjab’s district judiciary after the enforcement of Punjab Civil Courts (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016.
Raheel said that the committee had urged the provincial government to increase the number of judges in district judiciary to overcome difficulties arising out of increased workload.