Pakistan Supreme Court challenges president’s judicial appointments News
Pakistan Supreme Court challenges president’s judicial appointments

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] on Saturday deferred the appointment of two judges by President Asif Ali Zardari [official website] in an emergency ruling [press release, PDF] which has once again pitched the country's judiciary against its executive. Current Lahore High Court Justices Khawaja Muhammad Sharif and Mian Saqib Nisar were to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court and as Acting Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court respectively. The Supreme Court denied the nominations because Zadir had not consulted Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [official profile; JURIST news archive] over the appointment of Sharif to the Supreme Court as required by Article 177 of the Pakistani Constitution [text]. Nisar's assignment was dependent on Sharif's placement to the Supreme Court. Minister of Information Qamar Zaman Kaira said that Zardari did consult [AP report] with the Chief Justice, but it has also been reported that the judges questioned the validity [Dawn report] of their appointments.

Last month, the Pakistani Supreme Court released a detailed judgment [judgment, PDF] in the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) [text] case, ruling unconstitutional an ordinance granting immunity to President Zardari and 8,000 other government officials from charges of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder, and terrorism between January 1986 and October 1999. A special 17-member panel of the court rendered the original unanimous decision [JURIST report] in December, paving the way for corruption charges to be brought against Zardari. Zardari is immune from prosecution while in office, but challenges to his eligibility as a presidential candidate are expected. Many other government officials could face immediate prosecution.