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Pakistan regime chops high court size, promotes lower court judges to fill emptied bench

[JURIST] Pakistan's Attorney General Malik Qayyum told Pakistan's News daily Monday night that the government has reduced the size of the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] to 12 and would elevate lower court judges to fill out the complement of the restructured court as most of its original justices have refused to take a new oath under the President Pervez Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order [text] implemented under Saturday's declaration of emergency [PDF text]. Only five justices of the pre-emergency Supreme Court complement of 19 have endorsed Musharraf's order. The remainder have apparently been placed under effective house arrest [JURIST report], including former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [JURIST news archive]. Qayyum said four lower judges had agreed to take oaths as Supreme Court judges and that the government was trying to persuade two more. He said that the restaffed high court would reconsider the election case that had been awaiting decision prior to the declaration of emergency and that the "government would win the case", according to the News.

Former Justice Raza Khan, one of the justices confined, meanwhile told the News that he had refused to take an oath of office under Musharraf's order because emergency rule was akin to martial law. In the same vein, former Justice Rana Bhagwan Das said judges who have agreed to serve under Musharraf's order would violate the constitution if they open the courts for proceedings. An order [text] issued by seven members of the Chaudhry-led Supreme Court on Saturday while it was under seige by police and troops sent in under the emergency declaration explicitly barred civic and military officials from taking oaths under the new PCO. IE has more. ANI has additional coverage. The News has local coverage.

11:51 AM - The additional four justices sworn in Tuesday by new Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar are Ijaz-ul-Hassan, Muhammad Qaim Jan Khan, Mohammad Moosa K. Legariand Ijaz Yousaf. They join Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi, Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, M. Javed Buttar and Saiyed Saeed Ashhad, bringing the total complement on the court to 8.

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