* Sanctioned strength of SHC judges increased from 28 to 40
* Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali made chief justice of SHC, holds full court meeting
KARACHI: The government reappointed eight sacked judges of the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday, and increased the sanctioned strength of SHC judges from 28 to 40.
The judges took oath in a ceremony at the Governor’s House in the morning, after the federal government notified the two measures separately.
Sindh Chief Secretary Fazalur Rahman read out the presidential proclamation for the reappointment. Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad administered oath to new SHC Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, who in turn gave oath to acting chief justice Azizullah M Memon (as an SHC judge), Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Zafar Ahmed Khan Sherwani, Justice Salman Ansari and Justice Abdul Rasheed Kalwar.
“Eight former judges of the Sindh High Court took oath today,” provincial Law Secretary Agha Rafiq told reporters in Karachi.
They have not been reinstated but freshly appointed, he said, a technicality that allows the government to hold off on any change to the seniority of the sacked judges.
Former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf – who had sacked a large number of judges after imposing a state of emergency on November 3, 2007 – had signed a proposal for the reappointment of the eight sacked SHC judges on August 6, but the measure was delayed after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz – then a partner in the four-party ruling alliance – objected to it.
Full court meeting: Lawyers and judges greeted the new SHC chief justice, who held a full court meeting after taking oath. Officials said administrative matters and other issues concerning the SHC and the lower judiciary were discussed at the meeting.
With the new re-inductions, the strength of the SHC judges has increased to 26, leaving 14 positions vacant. If the government decides to subsequently restore the remaining seven judges – sacked SHC chief justice Sabihuddin Ahmed, Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Justice Musheer Alam, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Athar Saeed and Justice Arshad Siraj – seven posts will still be vacant.
The SHC appeared to be short of staff cars after the reappointments, and officials requesting anonymity said arrangements had to be made “on war footings”. Sources in the SHC said the outgoing acting chief justice had already placed a request for 12 new cars with the Sindh government.
The SHC may also face a shortage of chambers if all the vacancies are filled – unless the government implements the Evening Courts proposal. Work on a premises expansion project has begun already.