Pakistan coalition leaders strike deal on restoring judges; Chaudhry to retire 'early'

[JURIST] The leaders of Pakistan's coalition government reached agreement in Dubai on Thursday on the details of a deal on restoring superior court judges removed in November under President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency [JURIST report], according to local media reports. GEO-TV said that the agreement would be formally announced at a press conference Friday, as under the rules of the Dubai-hosted negotiations the visiting Pakistani party leaders are not allowed to openly engage in politics while in Dubai itself.

The deal as currently reported via JURIST's correspondent in Pakistan includes the following terms:

  • the ousted judges shall be restored within a couple of weeks through a simple majority resolution of Pakistan's parliament followed by an Executive Order making it possible for the deposed judges to resume their duties.

  • a constitutional package will subsequently be presented requiring a two-thirds majority of the parliament, and the constitution shall stand amended accordingly.

  • under the constitutional package, the position of Chief Justice shall be tenure-based and tenure is set for five years. The retirement age of the Chief Justice will be elevated to 68 instead of 65, although current judges shall retire at the age of 65. The Chief Justice shall retire at whatever comes first, i.e. either 68 years or after five years of service as Chief Justice. Ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] was appointed Chief Justice in June 2005, and under this arrangement his five-year tenure shall end in June 2010. Under the old rules setting 65 years as age of retirement, he was to retire in December 2013. He will now be required to retire three-and-a-half years earlier.

  • The judges who took oaths under President Musharraf's emergency Provisional Constitution Order on November 3 and subsequently shall be retained.
JURIST's Pakistan correspondent says it is unclear if current PCO Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar [official profile] will become Chief Justice again after Chaudhry retires. Dogar is already set to retire in March 2009, i.e. more than a year before Chaudhry. GEO-TV has more.

5/2/08 - JURIST's Pakistan correspondent says that, according to Friday news reports, the retirement age of all the judges of the Supreme Court will be raised to 68 years. Justice Dogar, who turns 68 in March 2012, would therefore become Chief Justice in June 2010 once Chief Justice Chaudhry retires after completing his current five-year term.

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